Friday, 10 May 2013

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #17

Lots to get through this week, including brilliant new albums from Primal Scream, The Fall and Public Service Broadcasting. New music from Gary McClure, Dingus Khan, Stehen Jones, Savages, Mugstar, G.D.D.L.F, Editors, These New Puritans, Parlour Flames, Goldheart Assembly and Queens Of The Stone Age. As Blur announce the possibility of new material, their 1993 classic 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' celebrates its 20th birthday. Plus the new David Bowie video, thoughts on NME.com's decline and in the "rewind" part of the column, memories of buying the Oasis single 'Some Might Say' just over 18 years ago...

In 1997, Primal Scream changed the way I listened to music forever, with their phenomenal ‘Vanishing Point’. The follow up ‘XTRMNTR’ turned me on to politics and various music genres I hadn’t explored previously. It was perhaps inevitable that after those two magnificent albums, subsequent releases failed to match such outstanding quality. After spending the last few years touring 1991′s landmark ‘Screamadelica’, there have been rumours that the album’s sound was to be a major influence on the band’s new LP. The truth is that the tone is in fact closer to that of ‘Vanishing Point’ and ‘XTRMNTR’, however ‘More Light’ is a very different record that sees Primal Scream moving in new directions once again.


Producer David Holmes helps the record flow with a filmic quality, the sort of album that takes you on a memorable journey. And like ‘Vanishing Point’, this is a good record for the road as well as a terrific thing to experience through headphones. Although there are hints of their best LPs, this isn’t a case of a band repeating themselves. The explosive nine minute opener ’2013′ is the sound of thrilling confrontation that perfectly defines the state of modern culture. While others are either afraid to protest or not concerned, here is a fine and all too rare modern day example of a dire political, social and cultural climate provoking a powerful musical reaction, and Primal Scream are just the band to do it. 

Listening to the entrancing ‘River Of Pain’ through a good pair of headphones makes me feel like my 13 year old self hearing ‘Vanishing Point’ on my Walkman for the first time, a mind blowing experience packed full of terrific sounds. Its Eastern vibe, hypnotic funk rhythm and shimmering acoustic guitar almost bring to mind a slinky, mysterious relative of 1997′s ‘Kowalski’. Four minutes in, the whole thing breaks down and sucks you into a major freakout, a cascade of free jazz, dub sounds and the booming swell of an orchestra. This psychedelic atmosphere seems to define much of the album, making ‘More Light’ perhaps the trippiest Primal Scream record yet, some of it flowing in a freeform style, some of it sounding tunefully accessible. The excellent ‘We Turn Each Other Inside Out’ runs on a relentless motorik beat and features more incredible guitars, another addictive and truly exciting highlight.

Running at over 70 minutes, ‘More Light’ is the sprawling sound of a reinvigorated group giving it all they’ve got and stretching their musical imaginations to the limits, sounding vital and important once again. Is it my favourite album of the year so far? I think so. Read my full review HERE, where you can also stream the album in full.



The Fall mean different things to different people. To some it’s just a northern bloke shouting random nonsense over repetitive music, while to others they represent an ever-changing musical revelation fronted by one of the greatest poets of our time, and an outfit that continues to experiment and break boundaries. They were John Peel‘s favourite band and have influenced a massive array of bands and artists over the years. For those who aren’t aware, Mark E Smith formed the group in 1976 and about 66 different members are said to have played in his band over the years, a lot of them exiting the group due to conflicts with the notorious frontman. However this particular line up of the band has now recorded its fourth album together, a kind of stability never seen before within these ranks.

It’s the 30th Fall studio album overall, the first since 2011′s aggressive, sometimes messy ‘Ersatz GB’ and it begins in a brighter, cleaner but no less exciting manner with the brief ‘No Respects (Intro)‘, while the fantastic ‘Loadstones’ has a punishing, no nonsense hook doesn’t take long to bury itself in to your mind. Again it demonstrates why this particular line up of The Fall has lasted longer than any other, and how they have developed as a musical unit. It’s hard as nails, yet none of this LP seems to be in the same thrashy, metal vein as ‘Ersatz GB’, instead we are presented with clearer production and a style that is livelier and more melodic in places. It revisits The Fall’s past brilliantly while continuing to push things forward in an uncompromising and challenging fashion. In terms of Fall albums it’s not quite a classic, but certainly one of the strongest of the last decade or so, and easily the equal of 2010′s acclaimed ‘Your Future Our Clutter’. Forever destined to divide opinion, if you don’t like The Fall, it will make you dislike them even more. If you are a fan, chances are ‘Re-Mit’ will not disappoint. Read my full review HERE.

Four years in the making, Public Service Broadcasting‘s debut LP follows the release of a number of brilliant singles and EPs. ‘Inform-Educate-Entertain’ is a superb representation of what the duo do, live drums and voice samples from old films being their trademarks.

The excellent ‘Spitfire’ sets motorik rhythms and lively guitar lines to dialogue from a 1940′s war movie, and vintage road rage finds its way into the hard rocking full throttle drive of ‘Signal 30′. ‘Lit Up’ is beautiful, spacious and simple, and the wonderfully arranged ‘Everest’ is an appropriately panoramic moment with epic, soaring chords and a infectious synth hook. It’s a unique record that takes you on a journey through the past while sounding fresh and innovative enough to place in firmly in the present. Read my full review HERE.

From Fierce Panda records, 'Knifey Spooney' is the new single from Dingus Khan, who I first heard on Steve Lamacq's 6Music show a few weeks ago. An eight piece group with a hugely enjoyable indie rock sound, their debut album 'Support Mistley Swans' was released in October 2012. Must give that a listen. The press release reads: "Dingus Khan consist of not one, not two, but three drummers - to keep your heart beating. Accompanied by three (ladies...please) bass players - to keep your foot tapping. A singer, with a guitar to melt young girls hearts (and moisten their under-crackers) and an electric ukulele wizard, just to keep you on your toes." Listen to 'Knifey Spooney' below.



Last week I talked briefly about 'Silence Yourself', the brilliant debut full length from Savages. And after hearing the album a few more times it now registers as one of the most exciting things I've heard in quite a while. That guitar sound is vicious and the atmosphere is one of abrasive coldness. The first three tracks really grab you by the throat, but the quality doesn't end there as more excellent pieces of post punk infused brilliance follow. A refreshing new band that match the hype with top notch tunes. Debut of the year so far I think, and you can listen to it HERE via Spotify.

'Wreaths' is the rather fine debut LP by Manchester based Gary McClure, and was released via AED Records a few weeks ago. McClure was formerly guitarist in Working For A Nuclear Free City but is now proving himself as a solo artist with his graceful, comforting new record. Coloured by harmonious instrumentation and built on reflective songwriting, it's an album that reveals its quality bit by bit with each rewarding listen. From the twinkling dream pop of 'The Blue Between' and the gentle swoon of 'Eimi, Etc' to the hymn-like 'Familiars' and the heavenly chords of the sparse 'If Only', these subtly emotive tracks feature lush string arrangements that warm you in the glow of the music. This record is well worth investigating. Listen to it in full HERE, and buy a copy HERE.

The new Editors track is an excellent way for them to return, sounding surprisingly bright, and as upbeat as they've ever sounded. In fact 'A Ton Of Love' has a strong Echo And The Bunnymen feel to it, and seems to move away from the darker electronics of the previous Editors LP, 2009's 'In This Light And On This Evening'. It's the first taste of the band's upcoming fourth album 'The Weight Of Your Love', due for release on July 1st. Listen to the new track below.


Another high profile comeback album hitting the music world soon is 'Like Clockwork', the first Queens Of The Stone Age LP in six years. Featuring a bizarrely diverse range of guests, it's out on June 3rd, and from it is the meaty, hard rocking drive of 'My God Is The Sun', which you can listen to below.


Goldheart Assembly are a group I've been keen on ever since the release of their hugely promising debut 'Wolves And Thieves' in 2010. Their new single 'Billy In The Lowground' is an interesting return, and the first track to be taken from their forthcoming 'Beginning Long Distance Song Effects' LP, a record made over a period of two years with Swiss producer Tobi GmurTheir sound has been described as organic and characterised by pastoral west-coast style vocal harmonies. Taking an experimental approach to recording and songwriting, the band has been known to make use of unusual objects as instruments. The album will be released July 1st, untilly them listen to the single below.


Parlour Flames is a collaboration between Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs (ex Oasis) and "alt-pop troubadour" Vinny Peculiar. The Manchester based duo have written and produced their self titled debut LP, playing guitars, basses, pianos and keyboards. Vinny sings and writes the lyrics. It’s described as "an eclectic mix of guitar-based pop with a psychedelic twist, a folk-art-rock record, lyrically engaging and melodic".

I can't say I'm that keen on the second single 'Pop Music Football And Girls' which is out next week, but the debut track 'Manchester Rain' is a lovely thing indeed, a nice musical portrait of a drizzly northern day that captures that looking out of the window at the grim weather feeling. Listen to that below. The 'Parlour Flames’ LP comes out 20th May 2013 on CD, Vinyl and download through Cherry Red records. Expect "studied psychedelic musings, melodic hooks, devious lyrics, hard boiled guitars, artful and accessible tunes..."



Taken from his excellent recent LP of the same name, 'The Next Day' will be David Bowie's new single. The video was directed by Floria Sigismundi - the photographer and filmmaker who directed Bowie's last video, 'The Stars (Are Out Tonight)'. You can read my full review of 'The Next Day' HERE, and look at various articles from God Is In The TV's Bowie-themed month of March HERE.

Alongside Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard also stars in the promo, which takes place in a pub with a cast and crew of religious characters. Bowie plays a Christ-like figure, Oldman portrays a priest and Cotillard plays a saint-like character. The video was considered controversial by some, and is now streaming once again on YouTube after being banned by the site. Watch it below.



The "Enigmatically secretive the psycho drone mystics" G.D.D.L.F are a group I discovered through fellow GIITTV writer Dominic Valvona. A new track from the band appeared on Dom's own Monolith Cocktail blog this week, and what a heavy, hypnotic piece of brilliance it is too. 'Casi Negro (Closing Beat)' is taken from their upcoming second LP 'II'Valvona says "G.D.D.L.F score atavistic Nepalese ritualistic hypnotic dirges and Byzantium space rock eulogies" and describes 'Casi Negro (Closing Beat)' as an "escaped occultist drone offering". Listen below.



From 1997 up until 2003 I purchased the NME every week. After exiting the indie rock world for five years as a punk rocker, the paper no longer catered for my tastes, except of course when it featured that band I ALWAYS loved: Oasis. After rekindling my love for indie rock and other genres in the late 2000's, those free CDs on the cover stopped, and I'd catch up with all my music news on websites, including NME.com. But now even their website seems to be going to shit, failing to deliver important news about new music and instead turning into a slightly indie themed celebrity gossip page. Worse still, some of the stories on there are simply irrelevant to the actual music scene and instead lean towards the sort of lowest common denominator celebrity trash. "Justin Timberlake's releasing another album soon"... Sorry, don't care.


They've become the exact thing that the late 90's NME would have spoofed, absolutely embarrassing. Their big scoop from this week? "Liam Gallagher nearly killed by blue peanut MandM". I'm all up for reading about Oasis, but these days it's "Liam says something about Noel", then the next day "Noel says something about Liam", and on a day when the Gallaghers haven't got anything to say about each other, they'll find a weak story with a celebrity connection like "Wayne Rooney saw Liam in a pub" or something like that. And this is coming from me, someone who loves Oasis as much as anyone, and even I'm tired of this farce. iIm all up for stories about Liam and Noel but only if they're about the music. In the meantime they're wasting space that could be dedicated to some great new music.

On the other hand reading meaningless gossip about the Gallaghers is still a better use of time than the NME's "stories" about Justin Bieber and his fucking monkey. It's supposed to be a MUSIC site for Christ's sake. Melody Maker would have never sunk that low. Having said all of that, I've probably purchased the paper about four times over the last two years, only when it's featured certain acts. This week there's a look back at the Britpop years, and I'm rather tempted to get it. It really does take something special for me to fork out on that magazine nowadays.

One of the reasons they're having a Britpop issue is surely something to do with the fact that Blur's 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' was released EXACTLY 20 years ago today (May 10th). At the time it was just a moderately successful album by a declining indie band that only just reached number 15. 20 years on it's now regarded as a sea change in British music and the beginning of an exciting era. 


I remember when I first heard it... It was smart, intelligent and very catchy indeed. Every note appealed to me in a major way, and I was fully aware what I was hearing was a work of genius. The LP kickstarted an era when bands weren't afraid to sound uniquely British and guitar bands such as Blur would soon find themselves positioned at the top of the charts. 20 years on and with the mainstream in a dire state, we'd give anything for an album like 'MLIR' to come and shake things up all over again. Read an article I wrote today celebrating this landmark record HERE, where you can also listen to the LP via Spotify. 

In more Blur news, earlier this week Damon Albarn confirmed that the band would be recording new material over the next few weeks. During a gig in Hong Kong he announced "We were supposed to be playing in Japan next week but due to unforeseen circumstances we were unable to go there...so we have a week in Hong Kong and we thought it would be a good time to try and record another record...". Notice the word "record" as opposed to "album". It's most likely going to be another single and a B side, which is good enough for me, considering the brilliance of last year's majestic 'Under The Westway'. But an album? There's too much reputation at stake for them to attempt to record a whole LP in a week, so dream on.


These New Puritans have unveiled the slightly Radiohead-esque 'Fragment Two', the first track to be taken from their forthcoming third studio album 'Field Of Reeds'. The LP is out on June 10. Speaking about the recording of 'Field Of Reeds', Jack Barnett of the band says: "I like the sense with this music that you are surrounded by people playing instruments. You can hear someone move or breathe before they begin playing." Listen to 'Fragment Two' below.


The ever-prolific Stephen Jones has been releasing lots of music from his Black Reindeer project recently, but this week saw him reveal the first solo single to be released under his own name in ten years. The twinkling 7 minute 'Go Away' is a pretty thing that inevitably recalls the more delicate side of his best known alias Babybird. Listen below and buy yourself a digital copy of the track.




Whilst listening to Marc Riley's BBC 6Music show a week or so ago, my ears were captured by a rather superb sound. It turned out to Mugstar playing a live session for the show. I presumed that they were some new up and coming act, but have actually been around for a decade now and were in fact the last ever band to record a John Peel session. Their Wikipedia entry describes this Liverpool five piece as a "progressive rock band, influenced by kraut/psych/space/noise rock such as Oneida, Sonic Youth, Neu! and Hawkwind." The band have released several records, but I'm going to start by investigating their latest full length 'Axis', which appeared at the tail end of 2012. Listen to their recent session with Marc Riley below.




As well as all these things I've been listening to new albums from Karl Hyde, Delta Mainline, Northern Uproar, and the live orchestral 'Holy Ghosts LP from Ian McCulloch. Add to that new tracks from the likes of Jagwar Ma, Six By Seven, The National, Vampire Weekend, The Dirty Rivers and City Reign. Time for the "rewind" part of the column now...


After my DJ debut in February 1995 and first hearing 'Definitely Maybe' the following month, April of that year saw the release of a new Oasis single, the first to be taken from their second album. 'Some Might Say' had all the giddy excitement and wide eyed optimism of the time, and hearing it 18 years on instantly evokes nostalgic memories of a hugely exciting time for British music. Growing up with these brilliant new bands of the time was vital. My interest in music had been growing for a couple of years, and now I found myself witnessing the rise of guitar bands during a time when the underground burst its way in to the mainstream, the most thrilling time for popular music since punk. As well as a fantastic live act, the off-stage antics of Oasis had made it into the music press, and soon the tabloids would pick up on the band.


American Dream is no longer there, but it is still a comic shop.
There was a small comic shop in Corsham called American Dream, which also sold a small range of CDs, the only place in the town that you could buy music from. I bought 'Some Might Say' from there during the week it was released and played it repeatedly when I returned to the nearby flat my Dad occupied at the club he managed. I remember trying to get my head around that weird sleeve and what the hell it was all about, and then the lyrics helped it all make sense "the sink is full of fishes... standing at the station in need of education...". I also remember Paul the barman at the club asking if he could have a listen to it on the music system in the bar, but it wouldn't have been a favourite of my Dad's. Although there would soon come a time when the bar would HAVE to play Oasis, my Dad dismissed them as well as Blur, saying that they were both the same thing and were both just "boy bands" copying groups from the past. He seemed to be the only person who disliked these groundbreaking bands at the time, although now he'd probably recognise both as the greats of the era. 


'Some Might Say' made it to number one and confirmed that Oasis had not only broken into the mainstream, but were beginning to make their presence known. The CD also featured three additional tracks which left me stunned that a band could just throw such incredible songs onto the B sides of singles. Here they actually perfected the art of the four track CD single, and years later it seems to stand as the format's greatest moment. The storming 'Acquiese', featuring the vocals of both Gallagher brothers, and 'Talk Tonight' allowed me to hear Noel singing for the first time, since at that point I only owned 'Definitely Maybe' and the cassette edition of the 'Whatever' single that didn't feature 'Half The World Away'. Liam blasting through 'Headshrinker' remains a mind blowing moment and one of his finest vocals.


The club was accessible via the alleyway
to the right of this vets on Corsham High Street.
'Some Might Say' was also included on a Various Artists compilation album I bought around about the same time. As well as featuring ridiculous but fondly remembered novelty fun such as Scatman John and total bilge like that year's Eurovision entry by the appalling Love City Groove, the cassette also featured the massively infectious 'A Girl Like You', my introduction to the magnificent talent of Edwyn Collins

The reason I began buying compilations of chart hits was because I was slowly but surely learning the art of DJing, and May '95 saw the 50th anniversary of VE Day, an occasion that the country seemed to revel in. The club was celebrating the event with a day of drinks promotions and a 1940's themed disco throughout the day. There were only so many Glenn Miller records and WW2-themed Jive Bunny mixes I could play, so as the day went on the disco gradually focused on more contemporary stuff, including some of the chart hits of the time (Rednex, N-Trance and dance remixes of Celine Dion tracks) and a double LP of summer-themed tunes from The Beach Boys, Katrina And The Waves and Mungo Jerry. Must have been a hot day. But I can remember that being the day that I could finally consider myself to be a good DJ and being able to operate the decks and mixer without making too many errors. Soon the club's resident DJs would be sacked and replaced by a new higher profile DJ who did the Thursday and Friday nights, but taking control of the Saturday night disco would be me. And I was only 10 years old at the time. Great days...

Next time: a memorable school camping trip and the glorious summer of '95...



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