Monday, 30 May 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Oslo - Skrika

Oslo were a band who came and went very quickly. This track 'Skrika' grew on me after hearing it a few times on The Evening Session back in 1999, and I went out and bought the CD single from Replay Records in Bath (as I did most of the great indie singles of the late 90's)

Today, over a decade late and I've finally started listening to Oslo's album 'Daylight', also released back in 1999.  And it does sound pretty good so far.... I don't know if this band went on to record any more material, it's unlikely they did. Anyway here's the single 'Skrika'.

Doyle & The Fourfathers - Dark Times, Luminous People - New single

The excellent Doyle & The Fourfathers are releasing another single from their fine album 'Man Made'. And better still, 'Dark Times, Luminous People' can be downloaded for free! A priceless track that can be yours for no price at all, just by becoming a member of the band's website.

Get this awesome track here:

An exclusive B-Side 'Nationally anthemic' is also available for free by going here:

LISTEN TO Arctic Monkeys - Suck It And See - FREE STREAM

The new Arctic Monkeys album, their fourth is brilliant. It's out on June 6th and you can listen to it in full by visiting the link below. They promised the album stream would be embeddable, but they seemed to have changed their mind on that, so until they give us the embed code, you'll have to open the following page in a new window....

LISTEN TO Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones - FREE STREAM

'England Keep My Bones' is Frank Turner's fourth studio album, and is released via Xtra Mile Recordings on June 6th. The album can be heard in full below.....

Sunday, 29 May 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Northern Uproar - Any Way You Look

This series of 'Song For Today' has been an A to Z of lost indie classics from bands that have mostly been forgotten about, and some that were never really noticed by that many people in the first place. This song by the next group is probably the successful track that has appeared as 'Song For Today' over the past few weeks, in fact i think it's taken us from 'A' to 'N' just to get to something that actually appeared in the charts. 'Any Way You Look' reached number 36 in the UK singles chart when it was released in May 1997.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Mainstream - Step Right Up

During the late 1990's/ear;y 2000's Replay Records in Bath was an excellent place for all the new releases. And after hearing Steve Lamacq play Mainstream's 'Step right Up', I knew it would be worth the 99p I paid for it. Years later while compiling this series of lost indie classics for this run of 'Song For Today', I decided to check out the album that Mainstream released, since I'd only heard the single over a decade before. As it turns out, the album is rather good.... but there's definitely at least two tracks I'd have left out. 'Step Right Up' is not one of them. More on this band and their album to be posted on this blog soon....

A tribute to Gil Scott Heron - April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011

The legendary Gil Scott Heron, often regarded as "the godfather of hip hop" has died aged 62.

I first discovered Heron on an excellent black power compilation called 'Stand Up and Be Counted', which was collection of civil rights themed funk and soul from the 60's. T is where I heard his awesome 'The Revolution will Not Be Televised' for the first time, a track that led me to re-evaluate hip hop. Hip hop was a genre that I hated (except for the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy), but when I heard this track I realised that the roots of hip hop were established from militant beat poets, a million miles from the commercial nonsense people consider to be hip hop nowadays. Heron never liked being tagged 'the Godfather of hip hop', but for sure hip hop was a sound developed and heavily influenced by his particular genre.

His influence is truly hard to overstate.

His recent album 'I'm New Here' was released last year and won a lot of critical acclaim, bringing his career to a quality end. His death comes as a shock and seems so sudden. For sure a lot of people will be in mourning today.....

The cause of his death is still unclear.

The influential musician and poet - often given a 'Godfather Of Hip-Hop' nickname he rejected - passed away in New York's St Luke's Hospital yesterday (May 27), reportsBBC News.

It is believed that Scott-Heron fell ill after returning from a trip to Europe.

After starting his recording career in 1970, his output spanned soul, jazz, blues and the spoken word.

His work had a strong political element. 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised', perhaps his best-known work, critiqued the mass media of the 1970s.

He was one of the first artists to use his music to speak out about the apartheid in South Africa, some time before the issue became the focus of a popular global campaign.

Scott-Heron went on to influence generations of musicians, both inside and outside hip-hop.

Kanye West heavily sampled Scott-Heron's spoken word pieces on last year's 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' album.

Scott-Heron's final album was last year's 'I'm New Here', his first studio LP in 16 years.

The album was reworked with The xx's Jamie xx into a remix album, 'We're New Here', which was released last February.

Public Enemy's Chuck D has been among those paying tribute to Scott-Heron, taking to his Twitter account to say: "RIP GSH..and we do what we do and how we do because of you. And to those that don't know tip your hat with a hand over your heart & recognize."

He added that he had planned to collaborate with Scott-Heron on his next album, tweeting: "Quite stunned at the fact I just wrote and recorded guest vocals on one of his next albums.This makes one realize that time is precious, damn."

New York rapper Talib Kweli also had his say, tweeting "Wow. The rest of my night I'm gonna listen to Gil Scott-Heron. We love you brother. We will miss you. RIP."

A new take on the old "Home taping is killing music ... and it's illegal" logo.....

Friday, 27 May 2011

VIDEOS: Pulp's first gig in 9 years

Tonight the legendary PULP are to play their comeback show at the Prmavera festival. 

But last night, as a warm up for the gig they played a secret show in France, and here are a couple of videos of what happened.....

Photography - Photos of Simon Fowler and Oscar Harrison (Ocean Colour Scene) by Mr Scott

Click on the picture to see it full size..........

Gig Archive: 2010 - Ocean Colour Scene acoustic (Simon and Oscar) - Swindon, May 2010

Returning to see Ocean Colour Scene play live for the first time in ten years was a real treat. Except this wasn't the whole of OCS, this was an acoustic performance from Simon Fowler and Oscar Harrison in an intimate atmosphere, providing the crowd with a memorable night of musical excellence. As you can see from the videos below, they got the whole place singing, including me (yes that is my over-excited voice you can hear yelling along to 'Profit In Peace'), and the enthusiasm of the crowd is most evident on the mass singalong of 'The Day We Caught the Train', which can be viewed below.....

Simon and Oscar did upset certain members of the audience by agreeing to return to sign autographs and meet some of their loyal fans, but they made us wait for over half an hour before we found out they'd actually left the venue through the back door. On the upside I got my copy of 'Saturday' signed by the band's second guitarist Andy Bennett (who most people don't recognise because he only joined in 2005) but it would've still been nice for Simon and Oscar to stick to their word.....

watch autoplay and fullscreen.........

SONG FOR TODAY: Lodger - I'm Leaving

Like many of the great tracks of the late 1990's, I first heard this on The Evening Session. But even though it was a great song, the line up of this band seemed to be more important, as it featured Supergrass drummer Danny Goffey and his wife Pearl Lowe (who are now best known as "the parents of the model Daisy Lowe"). This was a brilliant single, but sadly the rest of Lodger's musical offerings were not so good....

Thursday, 26 May 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: King Adora - Suffocate

A few months ago a friend of mine joyfully announced on their Facebook page that King Adora had reformed, which came not only as a surprise but also made me realise how many of the hotly-tipped bands from ten years ago all mostly sank without a trace. King Adora were a glam-influenced indie-rock band who first appeared in 1999, and apparently named after an oversized sex toy (which possibly explains them calling their album 'Vibrate You'). After their debut album and a handful of singles I never heard from them again. It turns out they were dropped by their impatient record label and spent the next couple of years recording a follow up album. the album 'Who Do You Love' was released in 2004 but failed to chart. The following year the group split up. But last year in 2010 King Adora announced they had reformed, and played some comeback shows. It isn' known whether any new material is planned, but a documentary film on the band is due for release in July 2011.... So bearing just a slight resemblance to a certain Smashing Pumpkins song, here's the single 'Suffocate'....

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: The Junket - Brace Yourself

I heard The Junket's 'Brace Yourself' on Radio 1's Evening Session in 1999, and to my surprise found a copy of the EP it was from in the record and CD department of Knees in Trowbridge. They have since closed the music section to become mainly a household appliances store, which is a shame as it stocked pretty much all the new releases of the time. I didn't listen to The Junket's EP for a long time, and I presumed it must have been one of the many CDs I sold in the early to mid 2000's. But after finding a box of old CD singles in my garage last year The Junket's EP turned up much to my pleasure. However, although 'Brace Yourself' was a great song, I don't remember liking the rest of the tracks so I haven't given them playage ever since I found the CD, but maybe if I feel inclined I may give the rest of the 'Stamina' EP a blast and see if my assessment of it differs.  One thing for sure is 'Brace Yourself' is slightly ahead of its time having been released in 1999, as about three years on, a LOT of British bands would sound like this.

Musically I suppose The Junket didn't have a very British sound, in fact it was closer to grunge and American lo-fi, but they still find a place in my series of late 90's indie in amongst all the mainly Post-Britpop stuff I have featured in this series of 'Song For Today' so far. Tomorrow there will be another late 90's/early 00's underrated indie classic.....

LISTEN: Cast - 'Time Bomb', 'See That Girl'

As I reported a few months ago, Britpop legends Cast are back together, touring and recording a new album. The album has been funded by fans through the Pledgemusic site, and you can still get yourself some exclusive Cast stuff from that site, including signed copies of the album (when it comes out), signed T Shirts and VIP passes to forthcoming shows. And plus a percentage of the money raised and from sales of the CD will go to homeless charity Shelter.

The band have been recording the new tracks, and hopefully the finished album should see the light of day before the year's end. Judging from the two new tracks they've played live, it's a return to the sound of the classic debut album 'All Change' and it's follow up 'Mother Nature Calls' rather than the orchestral leanings of 'Magic Hour' or the terrible attempt at being modern that was the last album 'Beetroot'.

More information on the Cast album when I get it, but here's live versions of two of the new songs.

The Horrors - Skying - New album


The Horrors first burst onto the scene in the mid 2000's, but a lot of people dismissed them as a bunch of goths with a personality crisis who spent too much time listening to old garage rock bands, and the 60's infected debut album 'Strange House' divided music fans and critics. Their 2009 album 'Primary Colours' was their second album and changed a lot of people's opinions of the group, seeing their music evolve into a moody, Krautrock-inspired psychedelic Shoegaze sound. Now in 2011 they are back with their third effort 'Skying', for which the band built their own studio and decided to tackle the task of recording and producing the album themselves.

The result is a fine set of songs that grow with stature and impact with every listen. While you can spot little bits of the influences (Echo & The Bunnymen, My Bloody Valentine, Kraftwerk, amongst many others) the band have managed to twist these inspirations into their own unique sound, and a sound that this group sound very comfortable with. The songs are strong and the album moves along with a truly inspired confidence, taking in big anthemic choruses, 80's synths, lots of phasers, droning guitars and songs that explore many different musical places while still managing to work as perfectly accessible pop numbers.

The album opens with 'Changing The Rain' where some rather intense percussion threatens darkness and unease, but instead the song shuffles along with a mid-paced, rather orderly baggy vibe and a bright positivity, making you wonder exactly which directions this album is going to take. The answers begin to unravel in the second track 'You Said', where the mood is brought down and touched by resigned-sounding melancholy. The sad croon of the vocals, the mesmeric soundscape of electronic strings and the ghostly beauty of the synths add to the bleak prettiness of this wonderful moment, making it an undoubted album highlight. 'I Can See Through You' is altogether darker, with an unsetttling but catchy keyboard hook, an enjoyably pounding groove and plenty of shades of psychedelica, sounding almost like a fusion of Hawkwind and Berlin-era Bowie. 'Endless Blue' misleads with its blissfully chilled out swoon of an intro, carrying the listener into a most pleasant ambience. Then about a minute and a half in the track explodes into action with a fuzzy, repetitive new wave punk riff and a euphoric, hazy chorus.

'Dive In' is one of the most instant tracks on the record and wonderfully hypnotic. the fractured, dissolved guitars form an attractive musical pattern underneath the tidy, strident vocal melody before a huge, powerful chorus is unleashed. Such big melodies however are only a warm up for the following track, the magnificent 'Still Life'. This song could very well be my single of the year so far and gets better with every listen: a neat bassline, backwards guitar loops, a steady drum beat, some stunning analogue synth sounds and a massive chorus that recalls Simple Minds at their commercial peak.Triumphant brass enters towards the end and adds to the power and scale of this excellent moment.

Such anthemics are toned down in favour of the mysterious haze of 'Wild Eyed', where haunting strings play against woozy horns towards the end, conjuring up an almost 'Screamadelica'-esque vibe. Perhaps the album's centrepiece, 'Moving Further Away' is a brilliant accomplishment and at over 8 minutes long proves itself to be quite an epic. Driven by dancefloor euphoria and decorated with thrilling Kraftwerk-esque synths, the title is repeated with maximum impact as the music fizzles with an ecstatic energy. Then towards the end we are treated to a fierce, angry barrage of guitars that almost recalls Mogwai's heavier moments.

'Monica Gems' is an altogether different beast, powered by an almost Strokes-ish garage rock riff, but becomes a marriage of psychedelica and glam rock, the vocals smothered with trippy reverb and maximum use of phasers. At first the closing 'Oceans Burning' is the song that proves the most difficult to get into, but soon grows into a work of strange, unfriendly beauty, drifting along in a cold downbeat fashion with a sheet of guitars that sound like an icy wind. There's a little hint of Frankie's 'The Power Of Love' before the song breaks down into an array of weird and wonderful electronics then bursting back into life sounding darker, stronger and more menacing until the track ends rather abruptly.

'Skying' reshapes many musical ingredients into a strong, confident piece of work that shows a band hungry to progress with every record, exploring lots of diverse musical territories while still maintaining a firm grip on perfectly accessible pop melodies and memorable hooks. The grooves and sounds are all played incredibly tidily and in a most orderly fashion, yet the music is well and truly liberated, sounding wild and free. My only complaint is the sequencing of the album towards the end does leave the album feeling a little incomplete, like it needs to take one more journey and go out with a much bigger bang. Despite this The Horrors have produced an incredibly satisfying album that may take a few plays to really get into, but sounds awesome when the sounds and melodies capture your ears. This record should win The Horrors plenty of new fans and should be more than enough to keep their existing fanbase satisfied.


The Horrors have named their third album 'Skying' and given it a release date of July 11. The have previewed the album by releasing a song from it, 'Still Life' online – click below to hear it.

'Skying' was produced by the band in their studio in Dalston, London and will be the follow-up to their 2009 effort 'Primary Colours'

The tracklisting of 'Skying' is:

'Changing the Rain'
'You Said'
'I Can See Through You'
'Endless Blue'
'Dive In'
'Still Life'
'Wild Eyed'
'Moving Further Away'
'Monica Gems'
'Oceans Burning'

Photography - My music collection, beautiful vinyl and some random stuff....


BBC 6Music wins 'National Radio Station Of The Year' award

Congratulations to all at BBC 6Music, which won the 'National Radio Station of the Year' at last night's MusicWeek Awards, and deservedly so.

Since discovering the station a few years ago I have become a regular listener over the last two years. In fact 6Music is my main resource for new music, and it's fair to say I wouldn't have bought so many records over the last couple of years if it wasn't for 6Music. Overall the station is a valuable resource for any music lover. Steve Lamacq's show keeps me updated with new bands as well as bringing back lots of nostalgia, Marc Riley's show has introduced me to countless excellent groups new and old, Tom Ravencroft (son of John Peel) brings a wildly eclectic programme of music to Friday night, and then there's Adam And Joe's hilarious Saturday morning show, easily the funniest thing on radio by far. And if that isn't enough Jarvis Cocker hosts his wonderful show on Sunday, Stuart Maconie hosts The Freak Zone full of bizarre oddities, and then of course there's Gideon Coe's late night feast of musical excellence.

Long may 6Music's glory continue...

Listen - NEW ORDER - Hellbent (previously unreleased)

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Interzone - Stay A While

This was a band who i came across on another music blog site a few days ago, when their name rang a bell. I knew I'd heard the name somewhere before but I didn't recall ever hearing of this band's music before. It turns out that Interzone was in fact an indie band from the late 90's/early 2000's who released just one single, presumably I must have heard it on The Evening Session once, and never heard it again. Until a couple of days ago when I tracked down 'Stay A While' and having very vague memories of hearing it over a decade ago. Also interestingly, this band featured Oasis, Ash and The Verve producer Owen Morris turning his hand to performance rather than being behind the studio desk, although I am not completely clear on what role Moris played in the band. It can safely be said that they should've done more rather than just release this four track EP then split up....

Happy birthday Bob - Bob Dylan is 70 today!

So an absolute legend hits his 70th birthday, having created some of the most recognisable songs in popular music and outlived many of the artists that he has influenced during his incredible career. My top ten Dyaln tracks? Too hard to choose, especially if i am to place them in chart order... So here's a selection of just SOME of my favourite Dylan moments.... It has proved a lot harder than i expected to post more Bob Dylan videos, as YouTube seem to have blocked them most of them....

and here's some video tributes to Dylan upon his 70th, by various Youtubers....

Monday, 23 May 2011

Blur - A brief guide

Along with Oasis and Suede, Blur were the band who spearheaded the Britpop scene that changed the course of my life during the mid 1990's. The nostalgia I feel every time I revisit the 'Parklife' album is overwhelming, and since the album was released I have eagerly followed Blur throughout their career. And now I just wish they'd decide to regroup properly and re;ease some great new music....

Blur first caught the attention of the public when they released the singles 'She's So High' and 'There's No Other Way', both typical of early 90's indie. The debut album 'Leisure' followed, but the band were just beginning to shape their sound and hadn't found their voice just yet. Still, 'Leisure' did have some great moments...

But it was with the single 'Popscene' and the 2nd album 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' that Blur carved an identity for themselves, with unmistakably British songwriting and smart, instant melodies....

But it was 'Parklife' that introduced me to the band, just as it introduced them to millions of other people. As the Britpop revolution took the country by storm, Blur won no less than 4 Brit Awards in February 1995 and a few days later I finally bought my own copy of 'Parklife' on tape from WH Smith's in Swindon. My life has been all the better for it since. Witty and intelligent snapshots of 1990's Britain all set to some of the best music in living memory....

Following 'Parklife''s major success the band were the biggest group in Britain... well almost. Oasis were also increasingly popular and despite being two completely different types of bands, Blur and Oasis fought it out publicly in a chart battle. The Blur single 'Country House' was released the same day as Oasis's 'Roll With It', and caused hysteria amongst the record buying public. After crazy hype and much news coverage Blur's single made number one to the delight of the band, but when third album 'The Great Escape' was released in the summer of 1995 it was eventually eclipsed by the second Oasis album which went on to be one of the biggest selling records of all time. 'The Great Escape' may have been a bit underwhelming compared to 'Parklife', but it still had some beautiful snapshots of the heady Britpop days, reflected brilliantly in 'Best Days' and 'Country House', as well as the stunning 'The Universal'...

After Oasis became globally massive, it seemed that Blur challenging them had backfired big time, as they suddenly became very uncool. A change of direction was needed and in 1997 the band returned with the dark and noticeably rawer self titled album 'Blur', which swapped brassy Brtpop for distorted guitars and lo-fi. And what an incredible reinvention it turned out to be....

A couple of years later and Blur had recorded '13', another progression from the previous album that was defined by its often dark and sometimes rather sad tone as well as some rather mad sounds. A record that was at time difficult to accept back then, but an album of absolute genius in hindsight.

After '13' it was a matter of where Blur were going to go next. An indication of their future intentions to make more groove-based music was present on the one-off single 'Music Is My Radar', recorded for inclusion on their 'Best Of Album' in 2000....

A few years later and guitarist Graham Coxon had left the band, reducing the group to the three piece that made 'Think Tank', an uneven album of noticeably more electronic sounds and much more like Albarn's Gorillaz project than most Blur fans would have wanted it to be.... Coxon was greatly missed and the void was definitely obvious on most of these tracks. However there are a few brilliant songs on 'Think Tank': these ones....

After 'Think Tank' the band splintered off into their own separate lives, and never offcially split up but apparently made an attempt at recording more material in 2005. In late 2008 Damon Albarn announced that the band would be reuniting with Coxon to play a series of gigs, and after a few low key shows the band headlined Glastonbury 2009, where they stunned many with an incredible performance. I remember watching it on the telly with tears of joy in my eyes as it brought back wonderful memories....

And then in 2010 they surprised everyone by recording a brand new track 'Fool's Day', which was released as a limited edition 7" vinyl for Record Store Day, one of the 1000 copies owned by me. Talk was that Blur entered the studio earlier this year and apparently the group come together every now and again to see what they can come up with. Perhaps it will be along time before Blur release another album, but if they ever do it should be well worth the wait AND an opportunity to make it up to us (and themselves) for the bad quality of 'Think Tank'....

It has to be said that Blur's B-sides were often very inconsistent in quality. And even though during the 90's i HATED taking sides in the Blur vs Oasis debates, it was obvious that while Oasis were releasing generation-defining classics as B-sides, Blur would often throw any old crap on there. Like the ridiculous 'Alex's Song', 'Red Necks' and the plain silly 'One Born Every Minute'. However if you dig deep you can find some pretty good stuff on their B sides, like these...