Monday, 28 July 2014

Track Of The Day: The Family Rain - 'You Should Be Glad You've Got A Man'

I'm becoming increasingly tired of people in indie bands who keep claiming that "guitar music is dead" before putting themselves forward as the saviours of the genre. Utter nonsense. If people looked a bit more closely at the UK's music scene, they will find that there are in fact indie guitar groups out there who are producing music that will knock many socks off. From my local city of Bath comes The Family Rain, made up of three uber-talented brothers Will, Tim and Ollie Walter. Following on from an impressive debut album 'Under The Volcano' (released a few months ago in February) the band haven't wasted time in delivering a set of follow-up tunes, which comes in the form of their brand new 'Hunger Sauce' EP. This new release is out today (July 28) on Mountbatten Recordings and includes the superb 'You Should Be Glad You've Got A Man', an upbeat, vitalised slice of indie rock that brings to mind a hybrid of early Franz Ferdinand and a (much-improved version of) The Killers, but buzzes with a vibrant yet melodic intensity that the trio are developing as their own. The video was directed and edited by the band themselves, while the track (as with the rest of the EP) was recorded, produced and mixed at NAM Studios by Tom Dalgety.

The song can be downloaded for FREE via the band's Soundcloud page HERE.

LISTEN: RW/FF Radio - 21/07/2014

Last week's RW/FF Radio was a bit of a special one. A VERY special one in fact. To celebrate the first birthday of our local station Melksham Town Sound, we thought it would be good if some of our presenters swapped shows for the week. So my old school friend Jason B took over the reigns at RW/FF Radio for one week, playing an eclectic selection of tracks ranging from pop punk and soul to Madchester anthems and electronica. Expect music from Mansun, Jimi Goodwin, Goldfinger, Jane's Addiction, Booker T. And the M.G.s, Ghosts Of Dead Aeroplanes, The Franklys, Gorillaz, The Stone Roses, The Pretty Reckless, Labyrinth Ear, Transplants, The Secret Sisters and Boots 'N All.

Following on from that, I returned the favour by hosting Jason B's regular Dance Class show, where I bathed in nostalgia and played a number of tracks from my days as a very young club DJ in the mid 90s. Featuring dance classics from Baby D, The Bucketheads, Ken Doh, Souvlaki, Stretch N Vern, Tori Amos, Josh Wink, Strike, Duke, Pete Heller, Alcatraz, The Lisa Marie Experience, BBE, Berri and DeLacy.

Both shows return to normal this week, and can be heard tonight (July 28). I do RW/FF Radio at 7pm, before Jason B returns with Dance Class from 8pm until 9pm. More info about the station's other shows can be found at the website HERE.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Photos of the Eels (Salisbury, July 2014)

Last night (Sunday July 27) Mark Everett (aka E) and the Eels visited Salisbury for the last date of their UK tour. I've heard of bands taking a slight detour while on the road, but it seems that Eels played Bristol on Friday before jetting off to New York to play a song on 'CBS This Morning', and then flying back to England for a show in Gateshead on Saturday night, and journeying back down south for the Salisbury show. I'm surprised the band had any energy left. But the show at the City Hall last night was wonderful, beginning with a selection of heartfelt and rather downbeat numbers, mostly from the recent album 'The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett'. Old classics were given new arrangements, the new songs sounded brilliant next to the fan favourites, and the strength of their set and the songs they DIDN'T play just shows how stellar the Eels back catalogue is. Big hits such as 'Susan's House', 'Mr E's Beautiful Blues' and 'Souljacker' were left out of the set, and yet nobody minded. After a beautifully uplifting 'Fresh Feeling' and an energised 'I Like Birds', E and his band went on to treat the audience to a stunning reworking of 1998's 'Last Stop: This Town' that actually had me in tears. A mad moment near the end saw Everett asking for a hug before running arms aloft into the seated crowd, many of who got up to embrace their hero. Before last night, I hadn't seen the Eels play live in nearly 14 years. The gap won't be as long next time....

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Track Of The Day: Stephen Jones - 'Manchester I'm Sorry'

Released via Bandcamp a few weeks ago, 'Ambition Expired' is the first full-length album to bear ex Babybird cult hero Stephen Jones' own name since 2003's 'Almost Cured Of Sadness', and it's an LP that finds the Sheffield-based musical genius delivering a breathtaking set of strange, beautiful and transcendental pieces. Don't be fooled by the low key nature of the release, this record is a superb piece of work, and one of Jones' finest. There is no press release accompanying 'Ambition Expired', just a doodle and some jotted words that describe this work as "an album with mind altering musical substance" that "involves no effort from the listener" since "ears will throw aside the mind for one simple hour". On BandCamp, a short blurb lists it as "a trip, not an album".

The magnificent opener 'Manchester I'm Sorry' exudes a blissful radiance, close to an ambient shoegaze sound where captivating guitars reverberate around the glowing vocal as slowed lo-fi drums crash underneath the dawning euphoria. Treat yourself to something different and let Stephen Jones take you on a journey that many others are unfortunate enough to be missing out on. 'Ambition Expired' is immersive, euphoric and magical. Read the full album review HERE.

REWIND: Oasis - 'Stay Young'

Even though this was only the B-side of the band's hugely anticipated 'D'You Know What I Mean?' single, some radio stations wary of the A-side's indulgent length and alleged "weirdness" decided that 'Stay Young' would also make it onto their A-list as an alternative for those who found the lead song a bit too much. Can anyone imagine a B SIDE being playlisted on (what was then) the country's most popular station? That is how big Oasis were at the time. It's a bright and upbeat track that always sounds great in summer weather like this, and any other kind of weather in fact. It's also better than a lot of the tracks on 'Be Here Now', an album which I write about extensively a couple of years ago in this article HERE. Noel Gallagher has said that he wrote 'Stay Young' at the time when the word "Britpop" was inescapable, perhaps why it sounds a bit like an emotional final hurrah of the era. This classic will be included on one of the bonus discs that will make up part of the 'Be Here Now' reissue, due for release later this year.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Track Of The Day: Negative Lovers - 'Hit And Run'

The sun is still out, so it's entirely appropriate that this track should also feature on the new edition of The RW/FF Compilation, which is the ideal soundtrack to your summer. You can listen to it in full HERE. Negative Lovers are a band who I discovered after one of their members kindly dropped me a Facebook message to inform me of their existence. Glad I had the time to check them out, because this four piece from the Indonesian city of Jakarta are rather brilliant indeed. Their new EP 'Faster Lover' is released next week on July 27, and features six new tracks. The legendary Jagz Kooner has remixed the EP's lead track, and provides two new remixes for this EP, which also includes this pacy burst of woozily colourful shoegaze, which glows with sunny surf-pop vibes, fuzzed-out guitars and bright melodies.

Negative Lovers are signed to Picture In My Ear records and consist of Tony Setiaji (Vocal,Guitar), Benedict Pardede (Guitar), Yoga Indrista (Drums) and Respati Nugroho (Bass). According to their press blurb: "this Indonesian noise-rock outfit harbours dense feedback, explosive sonic layers and sheets of sky along with a voice that calls out to you from the urban shadows..." I'd say.

REWIND: Underworld - 'Push Upstairs'

This week's Friday Banger is taken from one of my all-time favourite dance/electronic albums. After gatecrashing the mainstream with the NUXX version of 'Born Slippy', anticipation for Underworld's fifth studio album was high. 'Beaucoup Fish' was released in March 1999, reaching number 3 on the UK album chart. To this day it is still their most commercially successful album, selling over a million copies. No less than five singles were released from 'Beaucoup Fish', and the superb 'Push Upstairs' was one of them, and a number 12 hit. Riding on abrasive beats and aggressive, hard edged piano hooks, this late 90s stomper remains one of their finest moments. The album's working title was 'Tonight Matthew, I'm Going to be Underworld', inspired by the famous catchphrase used on the British celebrity impersonation TV programme Stars in Their Eyes.

Today's Friday Banger (and a few other previous entries) will be played tonight, as I return to club DJ-ing for the first time since my stint at Bentley's in the 90s! Everyone is welcome to attend this event, which celebrates the first birthday of our local station Melksham Town Sound. It takes place at the Forest Community Centre, Bowman's Court, Melksham from 8pm-midnight and entry is FREE. Myself, Jason B and some of the station's other DJs will be taking to the decks for a night of banging beats and uptempo grooves... More info can be found HERE

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Track Of The Day: Gang Of Youths - 'Poison Drum'

Quite simply one of the best indie rock songs I've heard in a long time. Gang Of Youths are a five piece indie rock outfit from the Australian city of Sydney. The band only formed in 2012 but musically have come such a long way in such a short space of time, as the epic six and a half minute single 'Poison Drum' confirms. 12 months ago they were "playing to nobody in an inner-city garage", and have recently found themselves touring with Cloud Control, Smith Westerns, Vampire Weekend, Manchester Orchestra and Frightened Rabbit. The group have been working with producer Kevin McMahon in upstate New York on what is to be their debut full-length, planned for release later in the year. With swooning indie romance, chiming guitar hooks, sprinting energy and a strident, breathtaking surge of a chorus, 'Poison Drum' brings to mind Springsteen collaborating with a more gutsy Arcade Fire, and provides the perfect introduction to this great band.

LISTEN: The RW/FF Compilation Volume 21: The Sound Of Summer

A summer special of the RW/FF Compilation, the perfect soundtrack for long sunny days. Struggling to hear good new music? In need of some fresh sounds? I believe in 2014 is the best time for new music we have had in years, but thanks to the people in control of the mainstream, not many people are hearing the good stuff. The regular RW/FF Compilation is here to help. It showcases the music that has featured on the site over the last few weeks. 

Just imagine if the 'Now!' albums featured the best recent music instead of lowest-common-denominator shite... they would sound like this! I don't have regular dates set for each of these mixtape-type things, instead I just wait until I have an 80 minute CD's worth of great new music to make up each compilation. Contrary to what some people think, there is plenty of excellent new music out there, as is proved by every one of these brilliant mixes.

First Aid Kit - 'My Silver Lining'
Spies - 'Moosehead'
Tape Waves - 'Looking At The Sun'
Stephen Jones - 'A Beautiful War'
Goat - 'Hide From The Sun'
Tony Allen ft. Damon Albarn - 'Go Back'
James - 'Curse Curse'
Night Sports - 'Youthquake'
Lee Coombs and Kostas G - 'Phunked!'
Epic45 - 'Weathering' (Bracken remix)
Echaskech - 'Sovereign System'
Manic Street Preachers - 'Between The Clock And The Bed'
False-Heads - 'Fall Around'
THE PHANTOM BAND - (Invisible) Friends
Gang Of Youths - 'Poison Drum'
Mat Motte And The People Who Hate Him - 'Summer Song'
Negative Lovers - Hit And Run
Hell Death Fury - 'Marijuana'

REWIND: The Beach Boys - 'Wouldn't It Be Nice'

It's July, the sun has been out pretty much all week, and right now the temperature in my county of Wiltshire is soaring. So what better way to soundtrack this fine weather than with a classic by The Beach Boys? This eternal slice of pop magic and encapsulation of innocent abandon is the opening track from the seminal 'Pet Sounds', the album that turned them from 60s boyband into an innovative musical force. Brian Wilson (who composed and produced it) described the song as "what children everywhere go through ... wouldn't it be nice if we were older, or could run away and get married". A few years later he added that "'Wouldn't It Be Nice' was not a real long song, but it's a very 'up' song. It expresses the frustrations of youth, what you can't have, what you really want and you have to wait for it." The song expresses "the need to have the freedom to live with somebody," according to Brian. "The idea is, the more we talk about it, the more we want it, but let's talk about it anyway." The lyrics were mostly written by Tony Asher, with the odious Mike Love providing the "Good night my baby / sleep tight my baby" coda. The instrumental track was recorded at Gold Star Studios in January 1966. It took 21 takes of recording the instrumental track before Wilson decided that it was good enough to be the master take. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

REVIEW: Stephen Jones - 'Ambition Expired' (Self Released)

The first full-length album to bear ex Babybird cult hero Stephen Jones' own name since 2003's 'Almost Cured Of Sadness' finds the Sheffield-based musical genius delivering a breathtaking set of strange, beautiful and transcendental pieces. 

As well as recording under the familiar Babybird moniker, Jones has also made music as Death Of The Neighbourhood, The Great Sadness, Trucker and Black Reindeer, each project offering something a little different. As well as releasing at least 13 albums under the latter alias over the last couple of years, the bafflingly underrated songwriter and musician has long been promising a new project that "will replace" Babybird, but this is not it. It's nothing like 'Almost Cured Of Sadness' either. Instead, it's something beautifully unique that Jones recorded at home and released via his BandCamp page. Don't be fooled by the low key nature of the release, this record is a superb piece of work, and one of Jones' finest. There is no press release accompanying 'Ambition Expired', just a doodle and some jotted words that describe this work as "an album with mind altering musical substance" that "involves no effort from the listener" since "ears will throw aside the mind for one simple hour". On BandCamp, a short blurb lists it as "a trip, not an album".

It's not as moody and cinematic as Black Reindeer, nor is it anything like the twisted pop songs of Babybird, what 'Ambition Expired' offers is an hour of music to lose yourself in. Before listening, you must free yourself of all distractions. Relax. Put on a pair of headphones. Press play and don't do anything else for the next 60 minutes.

The magnificent opener 'Manchester I'm Sorry' exudes a blissful radiance, close to an ambient shoegaze sound where captivating guitars reverberate around the glowing vocal as slowed lo-fi drums crash underneath the dawning euphoria. An invitation to "leave the church of Atheism and walk out into the light" is offered on the beautifully sparse 'If You Think I Believe In Jesus', a country-flavoured hymn where a piercing vocal soars to spine tingling effect, before the eerie 'Days That Never End' demonstrates tricks that Jones has perfected with his run of Black Reindeer albums. Crafted around unsettling hip hop beats, cinematic electronics and a heavy mood that builds with intensity throughout, it's almost like Death In Vegas remixing Mogwai. Except it's not of course, because Jones' music really isn't like anything else. 

On an album where the vocals are used as more of an instrumental element, 'A Beautiful War' provides the closest thing to a traditional verse-chorus-verse song, a blindingly pretty moment where fluttering electronics combine with blossoming sounds of nature. It's haunting, charming and uplifting all at the same time. It also highlights his ability to fashion odd, indistinguishable noises into strangely beautiful musical elements. The exquisitely hypnotic 16 minute soundscape 'Thank You For Trying To Love Me' is given plenty of room to breathe, taking its time to mesmerise and enchant as elements tesselate harmoniously, building into a dazzling glow of bittersweet euphoria. As well as its lilting serenity, it's hard not to be moved by the sentiment behind the title, reprising a familiar character Jones has excelled at portraying in the past; the unloveable fuck-up well aware of his mistakes, failures and bad habits. 

Even these tracks that clock in at around quarter of an hour each seem to take hold of the senses in such a way, that you're always happy to stay wherever the music takes you. The time and room given to these freely flowing song structures allow the listener to soak up the growing, evolving atmospheres for maximum impact. The stunning 'Endless Summer Day' misleadingly begins with heavily-treated vocals, as well as some ominous and rather acidy synth bass. Within a few masterful chord movements, the shadowy mood makes way for soft electronic tones shifting into glitchy, spellbinding patterns. Carrying the listener peacefully into misty eyed tranquility, it's a mesmeric treasure that flows with a twinkling poignancy and could quite happily go on for twice its already epic length. Grand in its power, but completely opposed to being overblown. On the climactic 'London Underground', sleepy guitars ring out to create a heavenly ambience amongst perfectly placed field recordings, ghostly drones and minimal vocals that drift to the surface like rising gasps of air.

Some of the moods and emotions are too strange to even put into words, and trying to pin a definitive label on these tracks isn't easy either. It's ambient music done the Stephen Jones way. After the hour is up, we're given the 'High Energy Crucifixtion' remix of '...Jesus', a bit of an ill-fitting cut and paste of dance beats and orchestra samples, which we'll ignore since it's clearly intended as a bonus track. 

Despite selling over two million records worldwide, Jones has never compromised the intelligence of his music for the mainstream, and has a deep hatred of mass marketed insipidness. With his talent for the unusal, why would he want to conform to sounding like everyone else? We need people like this man, who make this world a more interesting place by challenging the norm and going against the grain. It's not likely to sell truckloads of copies and you're not going to be hearing any of it on the radio. It's one of those well kept secrets tucked away in a weird little corner of the internet that you might be lucky enough to discover. Treat yourself to something different and let Stephen Jones take you on a journey that many others are unfortunate enough to be missing out on. 'Ambition Expired' is immersive, euphoric and magical. 8.6/10

Go HERE to read an exclusive interview with Stephen, where he talks about the past, the present and the future...

Track Of The Day: Echaskech - 'Sovereign System'

A beautiful helping of electronica, which comes from the London-based duo Echaskech. Their third album 'Origin' was released back in February, and from it comes the wonderful 'Sovereign System', which also provides the lead track on a new EP. Released a few weeks ago on July 7, this EP also features remixes of the song by Submerse and Krimson, as well as a Magic Panda remix of 'Telomere' and Seyr's take on 'Voyager'. Although the music is created by the duo of Dom Hoare and Andy Gillham, Echaskech are effectively a multimedia trio with the addition of visual artist Mach V, who provides the visuals during live performances.

"We kept some central ideas in mind when writing our album 'Origin', mainly the classic thematic / musical match of space exploration and discovery of new worlds," explains Gillham. "Our minds filled with astronauts and space ships when pondering a video to "Sovereign System" so we were delighted to chance upon Stephen Smith via Radar Music Videos who delivered beyond expectations with his cheeky inter galactic visual take on the track..."

REWIND: Violent Femmes - 'Gone Daddy Gone'

One of those bands whose name I've heard many times over the years, but never really got round to investigating. So it was a surprise a few weeks ago to hear that the Violent Femmes were the group responsible for the brilliant 'Gone Daddy Gone', a song included on the band's 1983 eponymous debut album. The lyrics borrow a complete verse from Willie Dixon's 1954 song 'I Just Want to Make Love to You', and is the greatest (and possibly only) track that I've ever heard which features two xylophone solos.

The song has become better known in recent years thanks to a cover version by Gnarls Barkley,  taken from their debut album 'St. Elsewhere' from 2006.

1 To Z: The Amazing Snakeheads - 'Nighttime'

I wonder if my "regular" 1 To Z feature will ever reach 'Z'? At the current rate that I'm going about it, probably not. Today's entry is a track taken from the extraordinary 'Amphetamine Ballads', the debut LP from The Amazing Snakeheads. I can only describe the creepy romp of 'Nighttime' as vaguely resembling The Cramps fronted by Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons. If that description doesn't make you want to listen, nothing will. The band recently underwent some line-up changes after frontman Dale Barclay announced on Facebook that The Amazing Snakeheads will be playing throughout the summer with a new line up. Andrew Pattie and Scott Duff will be joining me on stage." He later added "In the interest of transparency and fairness I will say this. William quit the band and Jordon knows why him and I are no longer friends. Fuck anyone who thinks otherwise. I have no intentions of pissing over something that meant so much to me so will never go into detail of the where, why and when of what has happened, especially on this barrel of bullshit..."

The Amazing Snakeheads have announced UK and Ireland tour October. Dates below.

05.10.14 The Caves, Edinburgh
06.10.14 Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
08.10.14 The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge
09.10.14 Fruit Space, Hull
11.10.14 Art School Union, Glasgow
12.10.14 The Duchess, York
13.10.14 Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
14.10.14 The Plug, Sheffield
15.10.14 Sound Control, Manchester
16.10.14 The Sugarmill, Stoke-On-Trent
17.10.14 The Musician, Leicester
18.10.14 SWN Festival, Cardiff
19.10.14 Grand Social, Dublin, Ireland
21.10.14 Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
22.10.14 The Haunt, Brighton
23.10.14 Electric Ballroom, London
24.10.14 Roadmender, Northampton
25.10.14 Simple Things Festival, Bristol

REVIEW: The Cambodian Space Project - ‘Whiskey Cambodia’ (Metal Postcard Records)

When people talk about music with a “lost history”, they often refer to obscurities that were too ahead of their time to be accepted into mainstream culture or to be widely documented. However, the tragic tale of Cambodia’s musical past runs a lot deeper than that. During the Khmer Rouge’s brutal reign in the 1970s, artists, intellectuals and musicians were ruthlessly executed, and their works destroyed, leading to a huge chunk of the country’s cultural history being wiped away. With various compilations and books bringing the music to people’s awareness in the last few years, The Cambodian Space Project celebrate and feed from the country’s lost musical history, bringing the sounds and spirit back to life in the 21st century. They were formed in 2009 when Tasmanian musician Julien Poulson heard the voice of Srey Thy singing in a karaoke bar in Phnom Penh. She’s lived in a tank, she’s been kidnapped, narrowly avoided a sex trafficking ring, been a women’s rights activist and has even worked as a Good Will Ambassador for UN Women’s UNiTE, rather an eventful life you’ll agree. On their third album, the duo augment their Khmer-rock and 60s Cambodian pop with a Motown flavour, supplied by an array of musicians including former Funk Brothers guitarist Dennis Coffey.

‘Dance Twist’ is a lively helping of surf rock that kicks off this pleasingly diverse album in upbeat, feet moving fashion, before the Motown connections shine through on the psychedelia-tinged soul of ‘If You Wish To Love Me’, while ‘Mountain Dance’ dips into a bit of rocksteady. Although it’s good having players who featured on some of the greatest soul classics, it doesn’t prevent the fact that they are essentially session musicians, something all too apparent on this album, which lacks a certain edge as a result. However, there are times when that barely matters, for example the highlight ‘Longing For The Light Rain’, a moody slice of laid back groove, embellished with colourful touches of brass, a fetching sax solo, some fine percussion sounds, and a sound in which the ghost of Curtis Mayfield can be heard.

The pace slows for the yearning power pop moment ‘If You Go I Go Too’, while the cool, memorably infectious ‘Here Comes The Rain’ would be a surefire hit single in a sane world, a commanding slice of savvy soul that provides another standout. Following the Eastern-flavoured (and English sung) disco-funk of ‘Black To Gold’, the 60s pop-flavoured ‘Rom Rom Rom’ races into heavier, more urgent moods towards the end, and the mysteriously quirky earworm ‘When Are You Free’, pushes things into new gears during two bursts of tempo that break up the Doors-esque verses. Reverberating with more unsettling vibes is the climactic title track where brooding drones meet the chimes of darkly atmospheric guitars, before the slow, spacious intensity transforms into West Coast soul towards the end, finishing the album on a high.

Although those famed session players add an authentic sheen to Whiskey Cambodia, in other places their presence makes things sound a bit more ordinary than they should be. A lot of people will consider Srey Thy’s vocals to be an acquired taste as well, but her often-haunted tones are perfectly matched to the well-executed melodies and effective arrangements. For something that’s a bit less Detroit and a bit more Cambodia, maybe the first two albums are worth seeking out instead, but Whiskey Cambodia does its own job well. 6/10

Review originally written for Monolith Cocktail

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Track Of The Day: False-Heads - 'Fall Around'

False-Heads are a trio based in East London, who release a new EP entitled 'Tunnel Vision' on July 28. Consisting of Luke Griffiths (vocals/guitar), Jake Elliott (bass) and Daniel Delgaty (drums), the group's sound falls somewhere between thrashy grunge and energetic punk, displayed brilliantly on new track 'Fall Around'. Bearing heavy shades of the Pixies, early Feeder and even a touch of 90s britrockers Symposium, noisy guitars and calm, cooling bass combine with snotty vocals to supply a rough n' ready slice of summer grunge-pop brilliance. It's also available to download for FREE via their Soundcloud page. 'Tunnel Vision' will be released through Hi4Head Records, available from all good digital stores and as a limited edition CD release with bonus tracks.

23 July – BRIGHTON – Green Door Store
25 July – UXBRIDGE – Crown and Treaty
01 Aug – UXBRIDGE – Crown and Treaty
02 Aug – KENT – Stepping Stone Records (in-store)
06 Aug – LONDON – Tooting Tram and Social
09 Aug – LONDON – Aces and Eights
23 Aug – CRAWLEY – The Black Dog
26 Aug – DARTFORD – Bull and Vic
13 Sept – BRIGHTON – Fitzherbets
25 Sept – LONDON – The Purple Turtle
17 Oct – PORTSMOUTH – The Cellar Rooms

REWIND: Asian Dub Foundation: 'Free Satpal Ram' (Primal Scream and Brendan Lynch Mix)

It was due to my love of Primal Scream that I ended up coming across this band. Bobby Gillespie would rave about Asian Dub Foundation in the music press, and in 1998 the Scream remixed their raging 'Free Satpal Ram' single, with the help of producer Brendan Lynch.

Satpal Ram was an Asian man who was wrongly accused of murder and jailed after defending himself in a racist attack. Ram, along with two friends visited a restaurant in November 1986. While there, an argument broke out between the three men and another group of six people who were also in the restaurant, an altercation that was over Asian music being played on the restaurant's radio system. After the fight turned physical, Clarke Pearce was taken to hospital with knife wounds and later died. Consequently, Satpal Ram was arrested for murder and convicted in 1987. Controversy arose among the British media when it was alleged that his barrister did not meet with him, onl;y speaking to him for around 40 minutes before the trial. The jury was claimed to have missed vital evidence because no interpreter was provided to translate for a Bengali-speaking waiter who had been present at the incident. It is also alleged that the judge was to have said he would interpret but also that he couldn't speak the Bengali language. There were also reports of Ram being beaten, starved, repeatedly strip-searched, and made to spend large periods of time in solitary confinement. 

Back then, I was still in secondary school. As part of our PSE (personal and social education) lessons, one of our projects was to give a talk to the class on a chosen subject. Inspired by Satpal Ram's case, I told his story to the rest of my classmates and even handed round a petition for people to sign. Satpal Ram was released from Blantyre House Prison on parole in June 2002.

Asian Dub Foundation play the world premiere of their original live soundtrack to George Lucas' film 'THX 1138' at Celebrate Brooklyn! Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY on August 8th.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Track Of The Day: Plank! - 'Aphidelity'

Manchester trio Plank! have just released their second full-length 'Hivemind', a superb album inspired by "the millions of arthropods without which our global eco-system could not survive." And indeed the 10 track LP is rather insect-like in a lot of ways: its movements are rhythmically odd, it has many legs, and like some insects, it is also capable of flying exploratively. Taken from it, the magnificent 'Aphidelity' is an essential slice of European-flavoured intergalactic disco, marching into the cosmos with authoritative power. A masterfully crafted blend of prog, post-rock, electronica and Krautrock, 'Hivemind' succeeds in exploring structural possibilities and forever journeying to different habitats, yet it's also a cohesive set of songs that fit together superbly as one inspired idea. Read the full album review HERE.

REWIND: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - 'Whatever Happened To My Rock 'n' Roll (Punk Song)'

Released in 2001 and still the best LP to come out of the early 2000's 'new rock n roll revolution', 'B.R.M.C.' is the self-titled debut album by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, released on Virgin Records. 

Carrying a sound indebted to hard rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, it also encompassed psychedelic rock, space rock, and noise pop influences from the likes of The Verve, Loop, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr and The Jesus and Mary Chain

The fiery 'Whatever Happened to My Rock 'n' Roll (Punk Song)' was the first song of theirs that I ever heard, and one that made me want to get my hands on that album as soon as I heard it. Still sounds excellent 13 years on.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Track Of The Day: Manic Street Preachers - 'Between The Clock And The Bed'

On my first listen to the new Manics album 'Futurology', I didn't immediately warm to many of these songs, and felt that the band I fell in love with were barely recognisable anymore. After the second time I played it, all that changed. One thing that takes a lot of getting used to at first is the unfamiliar sound of the occasional guest vocalists. On the stunning 'Between The Clock And The Bed', you could easily be forgiven for beginning to think that the CD has accidentally been mispressed with another artist's track, as Scritti Pollitti man Green Gartside's voice emerges over the relaxed soul groove it slips smoothly into. However, by the time James Dean Bradfield's soaring, life affirming vocal melody arrives near the end, you may very well have fallen in love with another new side of the Manics. And that dazzling, uplifting feeling that shines throughout the song? Look beneath and examine the tortured lyrics, inspired by an unsettling painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch which gave the track its name. 

As well as movements in new directions, we still get all the things that have always made the Manics great: the incredible tunes, the slogans, the values, and of course Bradfield's magnificent voice. I'll say that these last two albums both stand as their strongest works since the 90s. Reignited once again, with 'Futurology' the Manics have written one of the most interesting chapters in their fascinating and eventful story. Read the full album review HERE.