Friday, 30 November 2012

REVIEW: Port Erin - Wheel Inside A Wheel - new album

Port Erin are a three piece band from the English county of Wiltshire, and lately they've been releasing some rather fine sounds indeed. Released late last year and recorded at Real World with producer Marco Migliari, 'Wheel Inside A Wheel' is their second full length, and features a number of songs that confirm them as an outfit to look out for.

The opening burst of colour that is 'Smack Bang In The Middle' showcases their intricate guitar lines, intelligent songwriting and instinctive arrangements. But as well as the recognisable shades of early Elbow, Doves and Jeff Buckley, the carefully picked notes and flourishing melodies are boosted by the jazz-funk punch of the rhythm section.

With its irresistible guitar hook, plaintive vocal and elegant mystery, 'Hold On' is one of two standout tracks, along with the brooding, beautiful 'Let It Go (The Walls)'. Enhanced by smokey swirls of psychedelica, the addition of some calming violin and dub percussion in the middle also add some of the flavours that make the group's sound unique. Strong material like this suggests they could win a huge following if they're heard by the right people.

The epic guitar avalanche of 'Due Dues' and the Buckley-esque 'In My Way' play to their strengths, providing further reasons to add this record to your collection. Those violins make another welcome appearance on 'Some Time Later', which also has touches of folk and reggae, not things that should usually go together, yet these musicians have a way of making these contrasting styles work well within the core sound they've established.

Admittedly a bit of a dip follows, as 'Taming The Thought Of The Tiger' snoozes a bit too much to make any kind of an impact, and 'Scilly Dazed On The Paradise Bus' goes too far down the funk-jazz route and ends up getting lost, dragging the LP off course in the process. But it's only a brief blip. Rounding off the album wonderfully, 'The Big F' brings forward horns that provide a jazzy embellishment to the gliding ambience and warm vocals.

Listen to their (now very rare) debut 'Meet Me On The Common' for an idea of how they've since progressed, adding their own touch to their varied influences to create the basis of their newer material. This second LP is a step forward for this hugely promising group. 7.5

Thursday, 29 November 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Speedy J - De-Orbit

"Speedy J (real name Jochem Paap) is a Dutch techno producer based in the city of Rotterdam. 

Jochem Paap (the Rotterdam artist owes the nickname Speedy J to his DJ skills) is unanimously considered to be one of the first techno producers to come from the Benelux. Together with people like Laurent Garnier, Aphex Twin and Richie Hawtin he helped raising the genre just after it had escaped the Detroit delivery room. 

Since the early nineties, Speedy J releases on labels like Plus 8, Warp and Novamute. But while techno develops into a dominating force on many dance floors worldwide, Jochem Paap, after the albums G Spot (1993) and Ginger (1995), turns left and heads for other exciting places. On Public Energy No. 1 (1997) and A Shocking Hobby (2000) the sound wizard exchanges flowing, harmonious techno for a much more complex sound, filled with colliding samples, crackling rhythms and tremendously thrilling turns..."

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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Melody's Echo Chamber - I Follow You

Wonderfully seductive new track I've been hearing on BBC 6Music lately... Parisian artist Melody Prochet, aka Melody's Echo Chamber, will release her self-titled debut on November 5 in the UK/Europe via Weird World. The album was recorded and mixed by Tame Impala's Kevin Parker.The video for the wonderful 'I Follow You' was directed by Laurie Lassalle. Melody's Echo Chamber will tour with the Raveonettes this fall... Formerly of The Narcoleptic Dancers and My Bee’s Garden, the classically trained Parisian recruited Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker to produce her debut under that name, making those closed-eye visions a reality. Lead single/opener “I Follow You” begins with simple, sun-drenched ’60s melodies and ambling guitars before descending into a psychedelic swirl that recalls Parker’s day job... 

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Monday, 26 November 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Palma Violets - Best Of Friends

Palma Violets are a band whose recent single 'Best Of Friends' has caught my attention. I know very little information about the group, except for the fact that they are currently based in Lambeth and signed to Rough Trade records. 

The single was released on 21st October 2012 on 7", CD and an iTunes download which you can buy HERE. The NME have recently declared Palma Violets to be "the best new band in Britain". They certainly sound promising to me...

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LISTEN TO: Martin Rossiter - The Defenestration Of St Martin

Martin Rossiter, former frontman of 90's indie legends Gene has finally released his debut solo album 'The Defenestration Of St Martin'. The album was funded by fans via the innovative PledgeMusic site, and was released today (November 26th 2012). You can listen to the album in full via the Spotify player below...

Martin says: "I’ve wanted to make this album for years. Ten beautiful songs, secular hymns, piano and voice – nothing to detract or distract from the melody and the words. Some of these words will undoubtedly make you cry. The melodies will turn to flesh the most calcified heart. For those of you with a chipper disposition you’re clearly here in error. However, while I have your attention, there may be the odd moment for you..."

Three Points on a Compas
I Want To Choose When I Sleep Alone
No One Left To Blame
Sing It Loud
Where There Are Pixels
I Must Be Jesus
My Heart’s Designed for Pumping Blood
Drop Anchor
Darling Sorrow
Let the Waves Carry You

Friday, 23 November 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Gossip - Standing in the Way of Control

A six year old song that has had a lot of airplay and a good deal of exposure, and a tune that I have finally been caught by. And once it's caught you, there's no escaping... 

Gossip (formerly The Gossip) are a three-piece American indie rock band formed in 1999 in Olympia, Washington. The band consists of singer Beth Ditto, guitarist Brace Paine and drummer Hannah Blilie. After releasing several recordings, the band broke through with their 2006 studio album, Standing in the Way of Control (2006). A follow-up, Music for Men, was released in 2009. The band plays a mix of post punk indie rock and dance-punk. Their latest album, A Joyful Noise, was released in May 2012.The band's breakthrough song "Standing in the Way of Control" was written by Ditto as a response to the decision of the U.S. government to deny marriage rights to LGBT couples...

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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Track Of The Day: First Aid Kit - 'The Lion's Roar'

A song that's been receiving lots of airplay on BBC 6Music lately, enough for me to become totally seduced by this incredible song... 'The Lion's Roar' is the title track of the second album by the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit

Written by sisters Klara Söderberg and Johanna Söderberg, the song was released as the first single entering the Swedish Singles Chart at #38, and then rising to #34 the following week. 

Hailing from Enskede, a southern suburb of Stockholm, the siblings began composing songs in 2007. 

In January 2012 the band released their second album, The Lion's Roar, produced by Mike Mogis. 

The album was critically acclaimed upon release and went straight to No. 1 in Sweden on the week of release and No. 35 in the UK.

NEWS: The Fall's Mark E Smith talks about new album and his dislike of Mumford & Sons

Mark E Smith of The Fall has spoken about The Fall's forthcoming new album, which he says he'd like to release in January of next year. He said: "We've been in The Kinks' studio for a fortnight... The improvement in the group is marvellous - they're just tighter and better. We're actually just finishing off the next record. I haven't got a title for it yet but we are thinking about a January release."

He added that he’s seen more and more young people showing up at Fall shows of late, saying: "There are a lot of younger people in the audiences these days. You've got the old guard and the young guard, I think a lot of it has to do with computers and getting music that way."

He continued: "The crowds are great though. We went to Sweden - and they hate our fucking guts there - but even that was all right. I don't know though, it doesn't bother me at all who is there. I don't fucking care who comes."

Meanwhile in some more widely publicised news, Smith spoke about his issues with Mumford and Sons. According to, the iconic frontman initially bad-mouthed them two years ago at a festival in Dublin whilst they were enjoying a backstage sing-a-long.

Speaking to The List, Smith recalled the incident, saying: I was talking to the promoter who's a mate of mine and said, 'look, don't take the piss. You've stuck us next to some mongoloid Irish folk band.' The promoter turns around and says, "they're number one in your English charts." I thought he was fucking joking. They started clopping about singing, sounded like they were dancing on the tables - so I told them to shut the fuck up."

This seems to match a story Smith told a couple of years ago: "We were playing a festival in Dublin the other week," he told Australian magazine Brag. "There was this other group warming up in the next sort of chalet, and they were terrible."

He added: "I said, 'Shut them cunts up,' and they were still warming up, so I threw a bottle at them. The band said, 'That's the Sons Of Mumford [sic] or something, they're Number Five in charts!'. I just thought they were a load of retarded Irish folk singers."

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Saturday, 17 November 2012

INTERVIEW: Thought Forms

Wiltshire based three piece Thought Forms are soon releasing their second album 'Ghost Mountain' via Invada Records. The album is out on February 18th 2013, and until then you can read an exclusive interview with the band right here. You can also hear the new track "Sans Soleil', and versions of 'Ghost Mountain You And Me' and 'Song For Junko' by scrolling down this page. Go HERE to listen to more music from this incredible band...

The album was produced and recorded by Jim Barr (Portishead live band of 20 years) and sees Thought Forms evolve and expand their sound into new territories. Their trademark sonic explorations are still here; ethereal doom, heavily psychedelic soundscapes and shoe-gaze. But the band have also taken their guitar-destructive cacophony and mixed it with a more 3 minute pop song ethic, which can be heard on 'Sans Soleil', the first track to be revealed from the album.

Since their well received debut album in 2009, the band have been touring constantly; this has included full North American and European tours with Portishead, festival appearances at various ATPs and shows with bands like Mugstar, Beak> and Six Organs of Admittance.

I spoke to Charlie Romijn from the band about the new album...

So who else has been involved in the making of this album, and who handled the production duties?
"The album has been engineered and produced by Jim Barr (bass player in Get The Blessing + Portishead) at his studio in Bristol. This is our first time working with a producer and he’s been great, he’s contributed so many interesting ideas and pushed us in the right direction with arrangements – it’s been really good to have an objective outside influence."

At the moment, is the album nearing completion or is it all done?
"We were given finished masters of the album last Thursday!"

There's been some fantastic artwork on Thought Forms records so far... who is doing the artwork this time round?
"Thank you! This time around we have some beautiful images from Sam Wisternoff – we’ve been working with him on a video and the stuff he was coming up with was just stunning; it was EXACTLY what we had wanted for our album cover but were unable to execute ourselves and he kindly agreed to let us use it for the sleeve. Sam is exceptionally talented – he makes music under the name SJ Esau and is a total wizard of all things visual – check out his eclectic offerings here:"

Would you say it's a progression from the first album, and if so how?
"It’s definitely a progression; it’s quite different from the first album. The most obvious thing to mention is that there are a lot more vocals on Ghost Mountain than there were on Thought Forms."

In what ways has the recording process been different this time round?
One difference is that we’ve had a lot more time in the studio than ever before and with longer gaps in between sessions, so we’ve had time to let things breathe and settle and go back to them with fresh ears. With our self-titled album, we went in and very much tried to capture what we do live, on record, no overdubs, just the three of us playing in a room. This time around we really wanted to make an album, make full use of the studio and the fact that we were working closely with someone whose music we really love."

When did work on the album begin and how many different stages has it gone through?
"We first went into the studio with Jim last December, just for one day to see how we liked the studio. He won us over by showing us his tape delays and we started working on the album properly in February. It’s been through a lot of stages since then! 
Recording the basics, overdubs, rerecording, writing new songs, many mixing sessions and finally the mastering and reshuffling the tracks about twenty times but it was worth it, we’re really happy with it now!"

If you had to pick a personal highlight from the new album what would it be?
"Hmm… that’s a hard one! It changes often but at the moment I’d have to say it’s a track called “Afon”. It’s a very quiet, dreamy song and something we’ve actually struggled with because it’s so delicate that it’s a hard one to get right live – we came close to shelving it but the drum sound and subtleties that Jim gave it have made it perfect for us."

In terms of the songs being composed, how does that process work for Thought Forms? Is it usually a case of jamming or is there ever a time when band members will bring in particular material to work on?
"It’s a bit of both really – often we’ll just be improvising together and something will come out of it and hopefully the recorder will be on! But other times one of us will bring in an idea and we develop songs from that."

Thought Forms will be back on the road this November for another tour with label mates Beak> and will support the release of the album with a tour of Europe in Spring 2013.


06 - AFON
08 - O

THOUGHT FORMS TOUR DATES (with Beak unless marked otherwise) :

15/11/2012 : Brudnell Social Club, Leeds, UK
16/11/2012 : Deaf Institute, Manchester, UK
17/11/2012 : Stereo, Glasgow, UK
18/11/2012 : Whelan's, Dublin, Ireland
19/11/2012 : Kazimer, Liverpool, UK 
20/11/2012 : Chameleon Arts Cafe, Nottingham, UK (headline show)
22/11/2012 : The Lexington, London 
23/11/2012 : Green Door Store, Brighton, UK (headline show)
24/11/2012 : Motorcycle Showrooms, Bristol, UK (with Soft Moon)
25/11/2012 : The Full Moon, Cardiff, UK (headline show)

Sans Soleil from Thought Forms on Vimeo.

"Thought Forms own their instruments and they use them limitlessly, creating striking and powerful music. They do not sound forced or overproduced in any way, but rather organic and open-ended. They are heavy at times, but in the end, they feel like a fresh breath of air in the world filled with generic and overproduced music..."

- I Am Not A Musician, November 2012

"Powered by muscular rhythms, their slacker soundscapes are both raw and monumental..."
- Happening Magazine, March 2012

“They rose from zoned out scrapes, wobbles and caresses into blissed out echoes of Bardo Pond, Can and even a little My Bloody Valentine.”
- The Joy Collective, 3rd June 2011

“Crushingly heavy, shifting from an opening exploratory drone to towering riffage”
- Drowned In Sound, 18th June 2010

"This is soaring, epic stuff; the sound of effect pedals being tortured and sacrificed to the Gods of thunder, phaser set to stun and delays and fuzz too.
- Kerrang Magazine

“Thought Forms are creating the dogma of sonic worship.”
- Alt Sounds, 13th September 2009

"Thought Forms have created a record that is pure testament to kids with guitars. Think Sonic Youth, think My Bloody Valentine.... think Mogwai. Big fuck-off riffs with nice beefy distortion, hazy power slides through alt rock miscellanea."

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SONG FOR TODAY: Billy Bragg - 'Levi Stubbs' Tears'

Stephen William Bragg is better known as musician and activist Billy Bragg. His music blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs, and his lyrics mostly deal with political or romantic themes. His music career has lasted more than thirty years. Talking with the Taxman About Poetry is his third release (second full length album) from 1986. 

With production by John Porter and Kenney Jones, Talking with the Taxman about Poetry featured more musicians than Bragg's previous works, which were generally little more than Bragg himself and a guitar. There were two singles released from the album. 'Levi Stubbs' Tears' peaked at #29 in the UK.

The album's title is also the title of a Vladimir Mayakovsky poem, which appears as part of the liner notes. The original album cover has the subtitle "The Difficult Third Album".

Friday, 16 November 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Funeral Suits - Colour Fade

A fine track taken from this year's album 'Lily Of The Valley'... Funeral Suits are a four-piece from Ireland consisting of Brian James, Mik McKeogh, Greg McCarthy and Dar Grant. The music they make is expansive without being overblown, heavy without being menacing and all the more thrilling for its restraint.

A shared love of epic, distorted guitars, blistering harmonius pop, art rock and
electronica led to the band spending the best part of two years holed up in a disused office space in deepest North County Dublin, writing, rehearsing and at times venturing out to play as special guests for Franz Ferdinand, Passion Pit, The Maccabees, Local Natives amongst others.

Funeral Suits have recorded their debut album ‘Lily of the Valley’ with acclaimed producer Stephen Street (Blur, The Smiths) which was released on Model Citizen records in June 2012.

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