Thursday, 28 February 2013

SONG FOR TODAY: Laid Back - White Horse

ARTIST: Laid Back

SONG: White Horse

ALBUM: Keep Smiling

YEAR: 1983

NOTES: Thanks to the guys from Django Django for posting a link on their Twitter page to this excellent track, which I don't think I've heard before. Made a year before I was even born, and way ahead of its time in terms of style and sound. 

"'White Horse' is a 1983 crossover post-disco single written by Tim Stahl and John Guldberg of the Danish synth-pop duo Laid Back. In the U.S., the single was most successful on the dance chart where it spent three weeks at number one. The single also made the top five on the R&B singles chart and peaked at number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100. 'Erotic City' by Prince and the Revolution released in 1984 as the b-side of 'Let's Go Crazy' is heavily indebted to 'White Horse'..."

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

REVIEW: Palma Violets - Palma Violets (Rough Trade)

A few years ago it was The Vaccines. Last year it was supposedly Tribes. But in 2013 it's Palma Violets who are being hailed as "Britain's best new band" and the blizzard of press hype is maybe what has rushed them in to releasing a debut album at such an early point in their career. They only formed in 2011, and given more time perhaps they could have developed further and produced a more vital record, but various songs suggest that they're not going to be "the saviours of indie rock" just yet.

However, there are some undeniable stand out moments, the full throated howl and melodic headrush of 'Best Friend' being a key one. 'Step Up For The Cool Cats' builds with slow-burning momentum, the lightly psychedelic two note organ adding an interesting texture to the heavy guitar reverb and youthful optimism of their sound. The infectious 'All The Garden Birds' is less raucous, but exciting nonetheless, bringing forward their most ear-catching tune so far. 'Tom The Drum' is a fun and rather exciting romp, while 'Three Stars' puts a strong emotional melody to a sparse, more introspective backdrop.

The brief and carefree 'Rattlesnake Highway' highlights their garage rock influences, but sounds more like The Hives covering The Vaccines, and like the Libertines-esque 'Chicken Dippers', it's promising in places but let down by a lack of fully formed ideas. 'Last Of The Summer Wine' is a fairly unremarkable B side that doesn't deserve inclusion on the album, and fails at trying to pull off the same trick 'All The Garden Birds' succeeds at. The likes of 'Johnny Bagga Donuts', 'We Found Love' and closer '14' are average songs that don't live up to the promise, while hidden track 'My New Song' is a private joke they should have kept to themselves.

Overall it doesn't sound entirely convincing as an album, since it's just every song they've written so far thrown on to disc. There's a lot of potential and four or five exciting moments, but in places it's lacking in terms of substantial weight. But do remember that this is only their debut, and there are signs that this lot could develop and step up to a different level. But someone should have told them to maybe wait a while before putting an album out. 3/5

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

SONG FOR TODAY: Jupiter Lion - The Death Of Dallas

From the Spanish city of Valencia, Jupiter Lion are a band who I recently discovered thanks to one of my fellow GIITTV writers, Dominic. 

They've only been around since the start of 2011, and yet they are fantastic. I'm going to be taking a listen to the self titled mini LP that they released last year. 

They have been described as "Psychedelic, A-class, electronic, non-commercial music". Their bio reads: "The band come from the legacy of German experimental music, the kind that at some point stopped looking towards the USA and Europe and started to look towards outerspace, the kind that takes music forward with nerve and sweat."

Sais (vocals, synthesizer and programming)
Jose Guerrero (Bass guitar) 
Gonzo In Vegas (drums)

VIDEO: David Bowie - The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

What a fantastic video. 'The Stars (Are Out Tonight)' is the second single to be taken from David Bowie's upcoming album 'The Next Day' (released 11th March). All throughout March, God Is In The TV will be running a month of Bowie-related stuff. Details about that can be found HERE.

GIITTV's Dominic Valvona commented on the video: "‘Introspection through retrospection’: David Bowie once again dwells on his past misadventures in this new video.

Posted in the early hours of the 26th February, ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’ is accompanied by career-referenced catalogue of posing Bowie doppelgängers – especially The Man Who Fell To Earth – Station To Station – Low period. The man himself acts the role of suburban, house-trained, husband to Tilda Swinton‘s ever increasingly deranged wife; their lives challenged by the strange haunting neighbours next door.

Less elegiac than ‘Where Are We Now?’, Bowie follows a more direct route with his metaphorical musings on celebratory; producing a song that wouldn’t sound out of place on Reality..."

March 2013 is set to be dominated by a celebratory series of events and release, both apprising and bowing, to the cult of David Bowie.

Whilst the zeitgeist is aimed at meditating and reflecting on Bowie’s past glories, achievements and legacy, there will also be a reminder of the Thin White Duke’s – still important – omnipresence with the release of a new album.

After a subdued pause of almost a decade, his 'The Next Day' LP is set to be unveiled on March 11th.  A surprise to not only his most committed observers, the fact that he’s been quietly back in a studio after such an hiatus, has come as a shock. Without fanfare or precursor, Bowie is perhaps in a sedate contemplative mode, avoiding hyperbole and, to some extent, criticism, by the lack of fuss.

Reminiscing with the subtext of critical evaluation, London’s V&A will stage an extensive exhibition in Bowie’s honour during the same month (until July 28th 2013). Featuring 300 artifacts from the archives, the Victoria Broackers and Geoffrey Marsh curated show will explore the polymath’s artistic process, with a display of set designs, handwritten lyrics, original album artwork, photographs, costumes and music videos.  

March will also mark the 40th anniversary of ‘Aladdin Sane’; rightly hailed as a masterpiece by this commentator. Lighting flash bruised Bowie moves on just enough from the ‘put to bed’ persona of Ziggy to carve out a new glamorous rock’n’roll totem.

To celebrate this momentous conjuncture of the three, we at GIITTV will be indulging ourselves and goring on the vapour of Bowie’s stellar achievements throughout the month of March, with a series of articles, reviews and personal reflections.

We’re also especially pleased to announce a Bowie covers mixtape, which features a host of specially commissioned original recordings for GIITTV’s month long celebrations.

GIG REVIEW: I Am Kloot - Bristol Trinity, 23/02/13

After hearing about a number of great gigs taking place here, I finally get to visit Bristol's Trinity Centre, a venue that doubles up as one of the city's oldest churches. Tonight I'm here for I Am Kloot, a band whose latest album 'Let It All In' has provided them with a breakthrough Top 10 chart position and more well-deserved critical acclaim. Since their Mercury nominated 'Sky At Night', those of us in the know have been watching their gradual ascent from cult heroes to one of the UK's finest and well-loved bands. Like their good friends Elbow, they've already come a long way and they've done it on their own terms. But this magnificent group don't forget who their friends are, and tonight's show is a warm, intimate affair for all concerned, despite a sold-out crowd full of fans old and new.

This makes a change from piss-soaked pubs and soulless arenas: a well presented stage beautifully lit up with rows of candles and subtle lighting. A perfect visual accompaniment to the eloquent beauty and wistfulness of the band's music. They begin with a splendid 'From Your Favourite Sky' and the biting, infectious 'Morning Rain'It's a well chosen set that showcases a generous eight songs from the recent album, while the rest of the tracks are mainly from 'Sky At Night' and the much loved 2001 debut 'Natural History', more than enough to keep every type of Kloot fan satisfied. In fact the newly converted will probably leave here wondering why they've only just got into this band after so many years.

But even if this is your first Kloot gig, they will make you feel like you're already a friend, and there seems to be absolutely no barrier between band and audience. Frontman John Bramwell engages the crowd with his relaxed banter in between songs, calmy delivered wit that no one could fail to be amused by. Discussing the success of the new LP during one of many casual conversations with the audience, he remarks that recent critical acclaim has helped: "the Sunday Times described me as "a very heavy drinker"... that's one to show to my kids...".

A sublime 'Northern Skies' is equally as stirring as it is on record, while 'Bullets' amazes with its slow, creeping build up and exciting drunken burlesque climax. The lyrics and the way in which they're delivered seem to connect with everyone in a resounding way, from the boozy tales of 'The Brink' to the hope and contrasting introspect of a beautifully soulful 'Some Better Day'. A brooding 'Hold Back The Night' highlights the awesome dynamics of the three piece and the additional musicians that have joined them to enhance their live sound, sounding truly awesome at the song's dramatic peak. After the song's close, the rest of the band exit the stage, leaving John on his own. "About six years ago the other guys suggested what a great idea it would be for me to do a solo set in the middle of the show" he reveals. "But then after a while I worked out that this was coincidentally the point that the smoking ban had been put in place..."

We should be thanking Pete and Andy for their ulterior motives. The two-song acoustic section is absolutely spellbinding, capturing and completely hushing the audience. While everyone is watching and listening silently in wonder, it's so quiet in here, you can even hear the bar staff bottling up from the back of the venue.

Later they finish off the main part of the set before reappearing for a the stunning breeze of 'Proof' and a hugely uplifting finale of 'These Days Are Mine', wrapping up a set that leaves their audience delighted. And who could fail to be charmed by such a superbly delivered performance of these wonderful, incredibly well crafted songs? After the gig a lot of people stay at the venue, and it's not long before the group reappear to say hello to all the fans, meeting everyone personally and signing countless autographs. A refreshingly humble bunch of guys who are surely on their way to becoming national treasures.

To see more of my photos from this gig go HERE
and to watch a playlist of videos I filmed on the night, look below

Sunday, 24 February 2013

PHOTOGRAPHY: Photos of I Am Kloot (Bristol, February 2013)

A busy week continued last night as I went to the Bristol Trinity Centre to watch the amazing I Am Kloot. And they didn't disappoint. John, Pete and Andy treated a sold-out crowd to an absolutely stunning candlelit set that showcased tracks from the top ten album 'Let It All In', and a host of other wonderful songs from their back catalogue. Look out for my gig review over the next few days, in the meantime here's some pictures from the gig, and if you scroll down you can watch a playlist of videos I filmed.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

SONG FOR TODAY: Arab Strap - (Afternoon) Soaps

ARTIST: Arab Strap

SONG: (Afternoon) Soaps

ALBUM: Ten Years Of Tears - The Best Of (2006)

YEAR: 1998

NOTES: I could have picked the thrilling 'First Big Weekend' or many other wonderful tracks from this much-missed duo, but instead I've gone for this beautiful single I purchased back in 1998...

GIG REVIEW: NME Awards Tour 2013: Django Django, Miles Kane, Parma Violets

What a night. The NME Awards Tour 2013 rolled into Bristol to treat us West Country folk to two of the most hotly-tipped new bands on the face of the planet, a fast-rising rock n roll hero, and a band whose music is capable of blowing minds. 

Due to frustrating evening traffic in Bath, and the venue staff taking a while to sort out my press pass, I missed the opening act Peace, and only caught about half of the set from Palma Violets

Massively hyped by the music press, Palma Violets have been tagged as "the saviours of indie rock", and their place on this NME tour seems almost compulsory. Thrashing at their guitars, howling out the vocals, they sure seem to be having a good time, and looking out over the excited crowd, it's amazing how many fans they seem to have gathered in such a short space of time. But it has to be said that their songs don't carry the weight of the hype, and to my ears they're more like the next reasonably successful thing rather than the next big thing. But the energy is refreshing to see, and they're a lot more than Doherty and Barat wannabes. Certainly less shambolic than The Libertines, the added colour of textural organ and the reverb-drenched riffs make them comes across like a more chaotic Vaccines at times. Exciting at times, and definitely promising, but they have a lot more to prove. 

Some may think of Miles Kane as a Gallagher wannabe indie rock poster boy, but we need people like him to keep on inspiring kids to pick up guitars and go on to form groups. And with the infectious tunes he delivers tonight, he's stepping up to a new level. The growth in confidence is evident on the new tracks he plays, the best being the instantly addictive 'Don't Forget Who You Are', which has the delighted crowd shouting back its "la la la" refrain. There's so much life in him, and he looks like he's having a great time, absolutely lapping up the attention from the audience. And feeling like a rock n roll god is clearly good for his performance, as you can tell by the hysteric fans bouncing up and down to the likes of 'Quicksand'. 

Numbers from the first album are delivered with extra power, while the heavier new songs are showcased brilliantly. A couple of years ago, when I first heard his music and saw him playing live on telly, I didn't think that after such a short space of time, he would become the brilliant performer that I have witnessed tonight. With shows like this and a bag of excellent new material, Miles Kane is proving many critics wrong. A raucous 'Come Closer' ends the set, and after his band leave the stage, he leads to crowd into a few more repeat-after-me singalong bits of the song's chorus before thanking Bristol for a great night. He basks happily in the reception he gets, and you can sense he doesn't want to leave the stage just yet. When he does, it means it's almost time for Django Django. Due to his quickly rising profile and already-devoted fanbase, there's a sense that perhaps Kane should have been headlining this tour. But Django Django are to deliver such an excellent and enjoyable set that leaves the audience in no doubt of their rightful place at the top of the bill.

Now that's what I like to see: a nice quick change of equipment and instruments so we don't have to wait for teasingly long periods of time for the main act to start.

Standing at the front near the academy's speakers on the left makes this set a bass-heavy experience right from the thundering intro. After a slightly unconvincing start to 'Hail Bop' that's mostly the fault of sound issues and an unsuitable key shift, Django Django don't take long to hit top form. The hypnotic groove of 'Firewater' is slowed down, fattened and funked up, while an ecstatic 'Silver Rays' transforms the Academy into a rave as the shimmering lightshow enhances the atmosphere of their thrillingly inventive sounds. There's all sorts of stuff going on musically, and the way in which they deliver their clever, unique and infectious songs is an absolute joy to witness. 

A mixture of Beach Boys-esque barbershop harmonies, buzzes of analogue synth, arty rhythms and heavily percussive progressions, it's impossible to label their sound as belonging to any genre. They have a hugely diverse range of influences, and blend all these styles into their own intelligent, off-kilter and excitingly weird sound, which they have managed to bring to life on the stage brilliantly. In fact, it seems like they've spent a lot of time honing their craft and enabling it to translate into awesome live experience. They've also become exceptional entertainers.

There's all sorts of entertaining stuff happening visually too, the bassist walking over to help the drummer pound the kit, three of the band all huddled over the synths at the same time, then there's that big drum that singer Vincent Neff thumps away at during the eastern-flavoured monster 'Skies Over Cairo'. 

As a mighty 'Wor' blares over the enthusiastic crowd, it's a perfect climax to a top-quality showcase of some of the UK's finest acts, and if you ever see that Django Django are paying a visit to your area, it's your loss if you don't get yourself a ticket. 

Go HERE to see more pictures from the gig

and watch a playlist of videos I filmed below...

Friday, 22 February 2013

COMPILATIONS: The RW/FF Compilation Volume 2 - listen

RW/FF is a weekly column written by Ben P Scott for music and culture site God Is In The TV. 

The RW/FF Tape is a companion to the column, which showcases the music that has featured over the last few weeks. 

The idea is to buy all of these tracks and burn onto a blank disc, hence why each compilation will be roughly the length of a CD. 

Alternatively, just sit back and enjoy the best new music of the last few weeks...
These tracks are from artists mentioned in editions 4 and 5 of the column.

Eels - Wonderful, Glorious
My Bloody Valentine - New You
Black Reindeer - Gone
Suede - It Starts And Ends With You
Pulp - After You
Sukh - Clear Horizon
Depeche Mode - Heaven
McCartney, Grohl, Noveselic - Cut Me Some Slack
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Jubilee Street
Atoms For Peace - Judge Jury And Executioner
Foals - Inhaler
Cymbient - Trailers And Gliders
East India Youth - Looking For Someone
Karl Bartos - Atomium
Fidlar - Wait For The Man
The Staves - Winter Trees
Ocean Colour Scene - Weekend
Local Natives - Heavy Feet

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #6

This week, LOTS of stuff to talk about, hence a packed column. With the BBC broadcasting a series of programmes about classic albums, I talk about why there is nothing more glorious than the long-player. There's Django Django, Miles Kane and Palma Violets live, plus I attempt to sit through the Brit Awards. Also, albums from Atoms For Peace, Port Erin and Beaulieu Porch, as well as new music from Primal Scream, Charlie Clark and John Grant. In the second half I continue my journey through 1994.

So the BBC have been broadcasting a series of programmes that celebrate "the golden age of the album". They're talking about the LP as if it were a forgotten thing of the past. Everytime I hear a new track, I'm looking forward to hearing it as part of an album. And that's how it's always been. The LP is a representation of what an artist or band sounds like at a particular time, and also the ultimate way to prove consistent quality. A well sequenced collection of great songs can take you on a journey that no movie or book ever could. 

I now buy more albums each year than ever, although these also include old back catalogue stuff as well as new releases. And even though as part of the music press, I get sent a lot of CDs and digital downloads for free, this only means that I have more music to choose from when it comes to deciding what i'm going to buy for my vinyl collection. So ironically, despite being given lots of music for free, I'm still spending money on records just as much as I did before. Plus with a lot of bands streaming their records online, it's a lot easier for anyone to hear if a particular album is going to be worth the money or not. Before the internet all we had to go on was the strength of the singles that were played on the radio. Or sometimes you'd buy an LP on account of an artist or band's reputation. Now you can often preview the whole thing, listen to it a few times and then make your decision. 

You might decide that you only like a few songs, and just download them individually. There is something frustrating about that, in that it doesn't give the listener a chance to let less instant songs grow on them. When you play an album and can't be bothered to reach for the skip button, you're going to hear every track from that record. And every time you hear a song, it places itself a little bit deeper in your subconsciousness. Album tracks that you may initially think aren't as good as the hit singles may become some of your all-time favourites in future. The concept of downloading single tracks means casual music fans will lose out, but they do so because they choose to. It's their loss. The album is never going to die, for as long as there are creative minds busy at work.

The BBC were also marking the 50th anniversary of 'Please Please Me', the debut album from The Beatles. Famously recorded within a day at Abbey Road, the recording session was re-enacted by a cast of musicians exactly 50 years on, with mixed results. Best of all was I Am Kloot's brooding take on 'Chains', which the Manchester three piece truly made their own. Graham Coxon sang 'Baby It's You', and didn't even have a guitar in his hands (!!!). Although it sounded great, and it showed a different side to Graham, he didn't look very comfortable. Stereophonics turned in a typically meat-and-potatos rendition of 'I Saw Her Standing There', which was more tolerable than some of the other grating efforts. Mick Hucknall was bad enough but Beverley Knight doing her annoying vocal gymnastics all over a soulless limp through 'Twist And Shout' was just excruciating. I suggest digging out a copy of the original 1963 LP and enjoying it for what it is: a quickly recorded document that captures four gifted musicians taking their first step towards world domination and an eternal place in history.

What a great night I had on Tuesday as the NME Awards Tour 2013 rolled into Bristol to treat us West Country folk to two of the most hotly-tipped new bands on the face of the planet, a fast-rising rock n roll hero, and a band whose music is capable of blowing minds. Due to frustrating evening traffic in Bath, and the venue staff taking a while to sort out my press pass, I missed the opening act Peace, and only caught about half of the set from Palma Violets. Miles Kane was excellent and Django Django were just phenomenal. My gig review will be coming very soon, and I'll include a link to it in next week's column, but in the meantime HERE's a few pictures from the show, and HERE is a video playlist of a few bits I filmed. 

So Wednesday night was Brit Awards night, a joke of an awards ceremony that has surely hit its peak of irrelevance. It opened with Muse bashing out a bombastic, showstopping 'Supremacy' with the help of a colossal orchestra, and immediately I knew that this would be the only highlight of the entire ceremony. Never before has the phrase "downhill from there" rung so true. The 'Best British Group' nominations annoyed me. The people who decided the list were probably sat round a table saying "we haven't got a clue about music, so we don't know what bands to nominate", and then not doing any research. There was Mumford And Sons, who released a fine debut in 2010 and an average follow up last year where all but three songs seemed to sound exactly the same. There was Muse, whose latest LP was widely regarded as their weakest effort to date. There was Alt J, who none of the judges would have even heard of if they didn't win the Mercury Prize. The Xx's debut album won the Mercury the previous year, and even though the second LP wasn't any kind of a breakthrough, nor a big critical success, the Brits people nominated them anyway, because they couldn't think of anyone else. Lazy. 

I'm just glad that I had to go out for about an hour, so I missed a lot of truly horrible stuff, from acts who disgust me so much that mentioning their names here would make my column feel dirty. I arrived back home just as Mumford And Sons were beginning a limp rendition of 'I Will Wait' that lacked any sort of conviction whatsoever. There's something very wrong about the sight of a tired folk band standing on a huge soulless stage, performing to a crowd of champagne guzzling industry wankers in suits and dimwit celebrities. Was the 'International Success Award' invented especially for a completely talentless bunch of boyband puppets to add to their growing list of things that they didn't anything do to deserve?

"There's only one artist who can close the show" says host James Corden. Really? There are in fact many artists who could have closed the show, but none of them were invited to this sickening corporate farce. What they mean is "there's only one artist who's allowed to enjoy this unprecedented overexposure, so let's give her even more." Yes Emelie fucking Sande again. The Brit Awards died after 1996. 2013's felt like the final nail in the coffin. Truly embarrassing.

The Brits now represent nothing but the shallow, tacky and completely vacuous climate of "entertainment" in 2013. People are listening to rubbish because if they're not smart or fortunate enough to tune into 6Music (or certain internet stations), they're not going to be allowed to hear anything good. Why? Because telly and radio only want to feature "normal" family-friendly things that they think we all have to accept as adequate music. I wish someone would bring out an inspiringly confrontational and incredible song that openly addresses this sad state of affairs. A few days ago I realised that indeed someone had indeed just done exactly that. Welcome back the mighty Primal Scream. '2013' clocks in at nearly 8 minutes and rails against the mundane, sanitized dumbed-down popular culture of recent years with the aid of an angry, squealing saxophone hook. It perfectly sums up the way the powers-that-be have tried to put a cosh on "teenage revolution" and "the rock and roll nation". In Primal Scream's world, there is no room for complacency. You can listen to it HERE, where you can find out a little bit more about their new album 'More Light'. I'm looking forward to this record more than anything else this year.

This week I've been listening to 'Amok', the exemplary debut LP from Thom Yorke's new supergroup Atoms For Peace. Perhaps slightly less emotional than Radiohead, it's more reminiscent of 2003's 'Sit Down Stand Up' or 'The King Of Limbs', and I think I prefer it to the latter. In effect, it's more like a follow-up to Thom's 2006 solo album 'The Eraser'; it's still very much Yorke at the centre of things, and his distinctive qualities are everywhere. The cold electronic textures are given a human warmth by the instinctive songcraft and the unfolding melodies, as demonstrated on the slow-burning 'opener 'Before Your Very Eyes'. 'Default' gives us ominous, rumbling bass and glitchy, awkward beats, while 'Ingenue' delivers warped analogue synth and percussion that sounds like dripping water in a cave. 

'Dropped' thuds and knocks before veering into an almost jungle-like drum and bass rhythm, where the bottom end riff is brutal. The shuffling, rattling 'Stuck Together pieces' has a contagiously dense groove and becomes a true earworm that will soon capture you after a while; "you don't get away so easily" it tells you. You certainly don't. Meanwhile the superb 'Judge Jury And Executioner' adds a touch of acoustic guitar beneath the clapped beat, moaning bass and Yorke's eerie falsetto. It's clearly not the sort of thing you're going to hear the milkman cheerfully whistling in the morning. As you might expect, it's not an instantly accessible record and you will need to spend a bit of time with it. But records like this can be extremely rewarding when the songs creep into your headspace. Thom Yorke is without a doubt a genius, a fact that is once again underlined by this is enjoyably explorative collection of tracks. I'm marking this one a 4.5 out of 5. Listen to the album HERE.

Talking of geniuses, more unreleased demos from the godlike Noel Gallagher have appeared online. 'Come On (It's Alright)' is a song he wrote for Oasis back in 2008, and the gorgeously subtle 'Just Let It Come Down Over Me' dates from 2010. Listen to these HERE and HERE.

Port Erin are a three piece band from my home county of Wiltshire, and lately they've been releasing some rather fine music that's well worth checking out. Released late last year and recorded at Real World with producer Marco Migliari, 'Wheel Inside A Wheel' is their second full length. As well as bearing 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 add some of the flavours that make the group's sound unique. Listen to tracks from 'Wheel Inside A Wheel' and read more about the band HERE.

The self titled debut album from Beaulieu Porch has recently been given a re-release, and you can listen to it and purchase from HERE. The kaleidoscopic highlight 'The Number 55' is a great bit of psychedelic chamber pop, with washes of melody reminiscent of the Boo Radleys. It has to be said that the rest of the album doesn't quite hit the same wonderfully colourful heights, but although some of it is a bit underdeveloped songwise, there are some well-executed moments and the low budget arrangements have quite a charm. Look out for my review of this record, coming soon.

A few days ago I was looking on the AED Records Soundcloud page, where amongst some other fantastic tracks, I came across a song by a certain Charlie Clark. "Hmm" I thought to myself, "I wonder if that's the same Charles Clark who used to be in Astrid?". Astrid were one of my favourite groups of the late 90's, and released a number of brilliant singles that should have made them huge. Instead Muse and Coldplay got huge. Oh well, at least Astrid didn't end up duetting with Rihanna or turning into a Queen tribute band. Instead they released three albums and split in 2004.

I had a listen to this song that goes by the name of 'Sunken Ships', and immediately I knew that this was indeed the same Charlie Clark, formerly of Astrid. I always presumed that frontman Willie Campbell was responsible for the majority of the band's music, but this beautiful track suggests that Clark was in fact the brains behind their irresistible melodies. It's the first I've heard from him for years, and his gift for coming up with a good song seems to have grown in that space of time. A seductive piece of songwriting, 'Sunken Ships' is a haunting, introspective and heartwarming moment that sparkles with emotion and grows with each listen. It's taken from the upcoming 'Feel Something' EP, released via AED on April 25th. It will be available on CD, DL and beautiful 10" vinyl. The lovely folks at AED have also been kind enough to let us have the exclusive play of the video to 'Sunken Ships', which will be on GIITTV very soon. In the meantime listen to the track HERE. It may very well charm you just like it's charmed me.

John Grant's new album 'Pale Green Ghosts' is going to surprise a lot of people. Instead of returning to Texas with Midlake, instead he went to Iceland to collaborate with Biggi Veira (from Icelandic dance pioneers, Gus Gus) on some exciting synthpop-influenced material. The magnificent title track runs on a creepy electronic pulse that's soon joined by spectral strings, Grant's dark croon and bursts of dramatic Bond-like horns. Lyrically it documents the drives that he’d regularly take through the ‘80s, to the new wave dance clubs that have inspired the electronic elements of the new LP.

“I’d take the I-25, between Denver and Boulder, which was lined with all these Russian olive trees, which are the pale green ghosts of the title: they have this tiny leaves with silver on the back, which glow in the moonlight,” Grant explains in a new bio. “The song is about wanting to get out of a small town, to go out into the world and become someone and made my mark”. The album is out March 11th and I'll be reviewing it soon. In the meantime listen to the awesome 'Pale Green Ghosts' HERE.

It will soon be exactly 20 years since Dodgy released their debut LP 'The Dodgy Album'. In the two decades that followed it, the band made a breakthrough with 1994's underrated 'Homegrown', became one of the UK's most well-loved live acts, scored a handful of classic chart smashes, and then split up at the height of their success. They reformed ten years later and returned with a surprising career-best in the form of 2012's brilliant 'Stand Upright In A Cool Place', an album that was met with critical acclaim and changed people's perceptions of the group. So what better to celebrate the bookends of their first 20 years than with the newly announced Back To Back Tour, which will see them play both their debut and the most recent album in full.

A trio of gifted musicians with an admirable integrity, they seem to awaken some sort of magic whenever the three of them get together and play. And at the moment they are clearly on a roll, already working on new material for their next record. As well as this special tour, they have a number of other gigs lined up as well, including an acoustic show in Frome to raise funds for the local Westway cinema. Go to their website HERE for more info and live dates, and go HERE to listen to the hypnotically beautiful 'Tripped And Fell', one of many breathtaking tracks from the truly seductive 'Stand Upright In A Cool Place'. I watched them live last year and had a hugely enjoyable experience. I suggest you do the same.

Ex-Bluetones frontman Mark Morriss has finally completed his new solo album, but it hasn't enjoyed a proper release yet and the only people who have heard it are the fans who funded the LP through PledgeMusic. 'A Flash Of Darkness' is the first new material we've heard from Mark since the demise of his old and much-loved band, and from what I've heard it picks up where his former combo left off. One song that I have heard is the excellent 'Low Company', played during the two occasions that I saw him play live last year. You can watch some live videos I filmed at one of those shows HERE and listen to the demo version of 'Low Company' HERE. I've been told the album is going to get a proper release soon. I can't wait to hear it.

In last week's RW/FF I went back to 1994, the year where my love affair with Blur began. I didn;t know it at the time, but Britpop was just round the corner. Having (in most cases) distinguished good music from bad music, I had by this point developed a real disliking for boy bands and also a hatred of rap music. I'd be buying Smash Hits and defacing pictures of Take That and anyone else who looked "crap".

One thing I do have a vague memory of is the day Kurt Cobain shot himself. I'd heard 'In Bloom' and 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' before, and thought they were great songs, but I didn't really know how important Nirvana were to a lot of people. But I have memories memories of my mum and dad talking about it while we were out at a local pub called the Three Magpies. My Dad said something like "it wasn't a surprise he killed himself, he was a miserable git and his music was depressing." Or something along those lines. It would take me about half a decade to discover grunge. Because that half a decade was THE time for British music, where once again our little island was producing the finest artists and bands in the world. 

But even the most golden years in musical history haven't been completely perfect: 1967 may have seen 'Sgt Pepper', but it also saw Engelbert Humperdinck's awful 'Release Me' spend 6 weeks at number one. As well as classic punk albums from The Clash and the Sex Pistols, 1977 also gave number one hits to ABBA, Leo Sayer and Brotherhood Of Man

1994 was no different: it may have brought us 'Parklife', 'Definitely Maybe', 'Dog Man Star' and 'His N Hers', but it also inflicted upon us the likes of Doop's irritating 'Doop', Whigfield's appalling 'Saturday Night', and Pato Banton's cover of 'Baby Come Back'. I wonder if he ever did get back his CD collection of Bob Marley...

But worse than all of these was another terrible cover version, one that spent a large portion of the year at the top of the charts. Wet Wet Wet's 'Love Is All Around' was Shit Shit Shit in many ways, and I'm ashamed to recall that I almost danced to it at a holiday camp disco. I'd just turned 10, and there was a girl sat on the other half of a table that my family were sharing with hers. I remember being too shy to talk to her, but we exchanged looks all night. So the big love song that finished off the disco would have been my opportunity to ask her for a dance. But I didn't have the courage. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't. Wet Wet Wet... More of 1994 to come next week. Bye for now.