Regular readers of this column will know that last week’s edition was the first one that has appeared for a while, and consisted mainly of a catch-up on what I’d been doing throughout June and July while not writing RW/FF every week. Last week I shared with you some of my Twitter statuses to give you a general idea of the things I was talking about and occupying my mind with throughout June, so this time I’ll give you a brief on the things I’ve been focusing on throughout July, all in the second half of this column, the part where my usual "rewind" would normally be. Next week I will continuing the ongoing journey through my musical memories, which have now been paused at 1995 for the last month or so...
On Saturday (27th July) I decided that I needed to find a way to be able to write this column and my music reviews again on a weekly basis. This involved either getting my recently-broken smartphone fixed or buying a new computer or laptop for the flat. Luckily I managed to find a bargain PC on a second hand sight that fitted in my price range and was able to deliver the basic functions I needed: word and data processing. So now for the first time in ages I can actually sit and write this column on a computer in the comfort of my own flat, whereas before I could only write it on a mobile phone blogging app, sketch bits out on paper, or type it up on computers located at my old family home and the library. Still not connected to the internet yet, but that isn’t essential for the time being, although it will make it faster and more convenient for source material and info in the future.
Also having a home computer enable me to once again be able to access my music database, which catalogues my collection of MP3 discs. I use these discs as a modern day equivalent of blank tape, for compilations, recording radio sessions and live stuff, and for music given away digitally for free online. But now I get sent a lot of stuff for review and preview purposes, I use mp3 discs very much like a physical promo CD: to be able to store the music for future reference and for play on my radio shows. Altogether it’s far too much to store on a hard drive, so I have to use good old fashioned blanks CDs. Having a way to easily find and access my entire mp3 collection means I’ll be more likely to listen to all this music that’s been gathering dust for a while, like yesterday when I had a sudden urge to listen to ‘This Is Just A Modern Rock Song’ by Belle And Sebastian, which I quickly located on disc 130.
Living in Wiltshire amidst so much countryside is good if you like a Sunday boot sale. Around Melksham there are a few, the main ones being at Lacock and Semington. I always enjoy a look around for records and CDs, and as usual go with a limited budget and only buy things that are under a certain price, meaning my purchases will be a result of chance and lucky finds. The heatwave has stopped and the previous night’s rain meant there weren’t as many stalls as in recent weeks, but still a respectable turn out nonetheless. Sometimes I prefer a smaller boot sale like this, since it doesn’t require as much time to explore and means I don’t spend all my money before getting halfway through the stalls. Not so much about on the vinyl front this week, except for a brilliant find for £1: The Beat’s Best Of compilation ‘What Is Beat?’, a most welcome addition to my collection. And since it fits alongside the copy of their 1980 album ‘I Just Can’t Stop It’, it means that I now own their most essential works: a classic album and a collection of their subsequent career highlights. The rest of the day’s purchases were a few late 90’s/early 2000’s dance compilation CDs (4 for 50p, a bargain), a CD copy of The Housemartins’ compilation ‘Now That’s What I Call Quite Good’ for 30p, along with CD singles by McAlmont And Butler, Hurricane #1, Supergrass and Morrissey for the same price. For 50p I got a mix compilation entitled ‘Funkmaster’, featuring 40 funk, disco and soul classics. Although it is annoying that they’re all fade-mixed together like a dance compilation instead of appearing as separate tracks. Altogether a pleasing day of finds.
It’s taken me a long time but on Tuesday night I FINALLY listened to Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ LP for the very first time. I bought it from another boot sale a few weeks ago and have been waiting for a night where I can stay up reasonably late enough to enjoy the record without the distractions of daytime. It does indeed sound wonderful, however I think it’s definitely much more of a winter album and will save it for the appropriate season… The dance compilations may come back out once the sun does the same. (Editorial note: on Thursday it did, and I chose to listen to some Fall records instead…)
So after a while not doing radio shows, I have made my return as a DJ over the last couple of weeks. While I was at the beach a couple of Saturdays ago on a blistering hot day, a new internet station broadcasting from my hometown of Melksham was enjoying its launch day. The day previous day I had gone into their studio to pre-record an hour long show for the launch, and getting used to presenting a radio show again didn’t seem as much of a problem as I thought it might have been, but getting used to a large mixing desk was a tiny bit daunting. In fact it’s the first time I’ve used a mixer of any sort since the 90’s, despite hosting quite a large number of internet radio shows since. But this is my first experience using a proper radio set-up rather than the two turntables, mike and mixer that I was used to back in my days as a club DJ.
Two days after my pilot show aired, it was time to do the first of my regular live Monday night slots, the first time I had done live radio for a long time. Apart from accidentally leaving the “mute” button on while talking into the mic (resulting in some unexpected dead air), getting the fader channels mixed up once or twice, and a couple of other minor fuck-ups, my first edition of The BPS Broadcast went well and was a pleasure to present. Something about live radio just makes you feel more connected to the audience, as opposed to hosting a podcast or a pre-recorded show. I thoroughly enjoyed my second show, which happened earlier this week and am beginning to carve a radio in my own unique style. I like the idea of mixing up sounds and presenting an eclectic array of music each time, but at the same time I’d like it to be a place for people like me: indie rock lovers who also dip into other genres every now and again to keep things fresh and for the sake of diversity. In the future my pre-show planning will involve filling a box with whatever vinyl takes my fancy, picking a few CDs, then selecting the best of the new music I’ve heard lately and then going to the studio. I will try to balance out the carefully planned elements of the show while also encouraging a sense of spontaneity in my music choices. You'll hear new releases, the occasional classic and lost treasures that you won't have heard for ages.
It's also perfect for all-round music lovers to discover more about "alternative" music. You can listen live HERE every Monday from 5pm till 7pm (Link opens in new window).
In terms of new albums, the last couple of weeks have been soundtracked by Six By Seven’s powerful return ‘Love And Peace And Sympathy’, and the utterly mental debut full length from genre-defying horn monsters Melt Yourself Down. In the spirit of giving everything a fair hearing, I have also listened to Kanye West’s latest album ‘Yeezus’ to find out if it lived up to any of the 10 out of 10 reviews I have come across. More about those three records next week. One album that’s definitely one for the summer comes in the form of ‘All That Was Has Gone’, the new one from Northern Uproar. The band were still in their teens when they arrived during the glorious Britpop years, making them the best part of a decade younger than the most notable bands of the era. The group split in 1999 but returned in 2007 with ‘Stand And Fight’, a record which re-established them as a rock band rather than an indie guitar combo. With many mid 90′s groups coming back, they decided to relaunch themselves a couple of years ago, relishing another chance to prove their worth.
They are aware that commercial success is no longer within their reach, and they are aware that music press cynics will continue to try and dismiss them, but a passion for playing music and a pride that comes with doing what they believe in is what keeps them going. ‘All That Was Has Gone’ is their fourth album, funded by dedicated fans via Pledge Music and raising a two-fingered salute to the music industry that turned their back on such a fine group. Listeners will be surprised at the diversity of this record, where the optimism of their self titled 1996 debut meets the infectious melodies of their second LP, topping it off with the hard riffing of ‘Stand And Fight’. There are fresh ideas and new directions, but Northern Uproar don’t jump on bandwagons or desperately try to follow and conform to trends. They simply play the music they love, whatever style it may be, making the best of what they create. They’re clearly having a blast on the superb ‘Stealin’ Time’, which recalls the attitude of early Oasis but delivers the direct punch that makes the Northern Uproar sound stand apart from the rest.
After the band split in the late 90′s frontman Leon Meya briefly returned to Spain, where he had spent the first five years of his life. He immersed himself in the country’s musical culture and began playing in a group with his uncles, an experience that has added some extra colours to his musical palette. This is demonstrated wonderfully on the acoustic pleasures of ‘Lies’, where the radiant sunshine is paired with a cooling breeze. Immediate highlight ‘Load It Up’ is packed with the sort of classic rock riffs that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Boston or even an AC/DC album and comes with a hugely infectious air punching chorus that is guaranteed to invade your head and refuse to budge. On the other end of the spectrum is the gorgeous ‘Riding On The Waves’, where the Spanish vibes and touching chorus meet a style that brings to mind Paul Simon‘s ‘Graceland’. Certainly not what you’d expect from the band who were once mistakenly labelled “the new Oasis”. ‘An undoubted highlight, the brilliant title track offers a smart bassline and an earnest sense of introspection that builds throughout, leading into a powerful yet understated chorus towards the end. ‘You’re The One Within’ returns to the exotic ambience and ends the album on a high, proving that Northern Uproar have grown far beyond the ‘Britpop’ tag. Read my full review of the album HERE, where you can also listen to the album and purchase it on CD or digitally.
Something else that's been on my stereo a lot recently is 'The Shadowed Planet’, the debut album from 18 year old Wiltshire-based singer songwriter Jordan Whatley, recorded in just four hours and comprising of nine tracks. It’s an organic piece of work featuring just voice and acoustic guitar with the occasional second-guitar overdub, the songs revealing a growing talent for making the most out of simple, good old fashioned musical ingredients. Demonstrating a cross-generational range of influences are opening numbers ‘The Brave I’ and ‘II’, displaying shades of Dylan, the Levellers and Frank Turner while lyrically dealing in poignant anti-war sentiment. Often the music moves towards acoustic folk territory, but vocally there are clear signs of American rock influences.
He doesn’t write just for the sake of it, instead he uses music as an outlet for his thoughts, memories and observations while gradually trying to piece together his own sound out of his influences. The title track and the brightly upbeat ‘Alternative Point Of View’ have a sound reminiscent of those great acoustic Oasis b-sides, while the autobiographical ‘Memories’ invites you into the mind of Whatley as he recalls his not-long-gone school days. Highlights ‘Tears On The Glass’ and ‘Go Home Tonight’ show his flourishing knack for a catchy melody, the latter delivering a singalong chorus, while ‘The Child With The Troubled Mind’ and the 7 minute closer ‘The Homeless Man’ take the lyrical focus to more thought provoking places.
This is just the beginning, but a promising debut effort that suggests there’s plenty more to come from Whatley and many more musical avenues for him to explore. He plays a free gig tomorrow night (Sat August 3rd) at The Pilot in Melksham, and on Sunday 4th August he plays another free instore show at the superb Raves From The Graves record shop in Frome, where he will have copies of the album for sale. More info about his music and upcoming gigs can be found HERE at his Facebook page. Listen to the album's title track below, and two more tracks HERE.
Frenzy are a band that I watched live many times over the last seven or eight years, but a shortage of gigs in the local area and other circumstances have meant that I haven’t been able to see them in action for at least 12 months. Many readers won’t be familiar with the band or the psychobilly scene that they have always been a major part of, but these guys are my favourite group from the genre (and the ones who introduced me into it), as well as one of the best live acts I’ve ever witnessed. This Saturday (3rd August) they celebrate their 30th anniversary with a free gig in Bradford On Avon. Look out for an upcoming article I’m writing about the band, their history and their massively overlooked musical works. In the meantime listen to the excellent title track from 2010's 'In The Blood', and find out more info about tomorrow night's gig HERE. While I'm at it I would like to wish the band a happy 30th anniversary and thank them for some top-class tunes as well as some insanely brilliant nights. And well done to Mr Steve Whitehouse for managing to keep it going for so long...
As well as listening to the ever valuable BBC 6Music, I also try and catch other radio programmes, most of which are on online stations or in the form of podcasts/listen again shows. Jimjam Wigwam is the man at the helm of a fantastic vinyl-only radio show on the (sort of) local station Frome FM, also home to a number of other great and unique shows. Like I said a while ago, I like to record radio shows onto mp3 discs just like I used to record old John Peel shows and Evening Sessions to blank tape in my youth, so a while back I recorded the March 7th edition of JimJam’s show with the intention of listening back to it at a later date. On Tuesday night I finally got round to hearing it, and what a fine 2 hours of music they were. You can find out more info about his show at http://frome.fm/programmes/music/jimjam-wigwam-show/.
Essential new music that has soundtracked recent weeks...
Bloc Party - Ratchet
Their first album was pretty damn good. The second one was hugely disappointing, the third had its moments and the fourth was a mixed bag. Preparing once again to go on another hiatus, Bloc Party have a new EP 'The Nextwave Sessions', scheduled for release on 12 August via Frenchkiss Records. Here is its main track, the infectious 'Ratchet'.
Splashh - Feels Like You
Cosmic psych-rock four piece based in London. They cite Pixies, New Order, The Velvet Underground and Deerhunter as influences. Debut album 'Comfort' is out now, and I will be investigating it further this week....
Yuck - Rebirth
Loved their 2010 debut album. The lead singer left and I wasn't sure how and if this band would be able to continue. They have, and they seem to be doing a good job of it. Where the first album dealt in grunge and indie fuzz, their comeback track 'Rebirth' seems to lean more towards shoegaze sounds. The album will be interesting...
Roy Harper - Time Is Temporary
A legend, a genius. Roy Harper returns on September 23 with his first studio album in 13 years. 'Man And Myth' is a seven track LP which also features a guest appearance from Pete Townsend. From it here is the lovely new single 'Time Is Temporary'...
Higamos Hogamos - Inwards Empire
Dominic Valvona's 'Tickling My Fancy' and 'Polygenesis Perusal' round-ups on God Is In The TV have proved to be great sources of new and often unusual music. Through it I've discovered Malian funk, Spanish psychedelia, German electronica, and now this wonderful thing from Higamos Hogamos. Dominic describes their new EP: "Smoothing out new musical peregrinations into the expanses of a well-travelled Krautrock imbued cosmos, Steve Webster’s nonsensical moniker, Higamos Hogamos troupe are back with yet another ‘fuzzy majesty’ release of live instrumentation and diaphanous analogue twiddling.... The main thrust as usual is quality. Get your kicks where you Can!"
Charlie Clark - Feel Something
The wonderful new video from ex Astrid man Charlie Clark, 'Feel Something' is taken from his brilliant 5 track EP of the same now. It's finally available now from AED Records, digitally and on 10" vinyl including CD...
David Bowie - Valentine's Day
Bowie has a new video for the superb 'Valentine's Day', one of my favourite tracks from 'The Next Day'. Producer Tony Visconti has recently confirmed that the lyrics concern a high school shooting, and this new video seems to contain a few anti-NRA messages. See if any of you can spot them...
Martin Rossiter - No One Left To Blame
Taken from last years lovely 'The Defenestration Of St Martin', former Gene man Martin Rossiter demonstrates exactly why some of us consider him to be one of the finest songwriters the UK has produced over the last few decades. The video has an interesting story behind it too: "Fulfilling a 15 year desire to do this video, Martin subjected himself to being frozen in a walk in freezer, then performing for this video in one take, as frostbite set in!"
So as promised, instead of the usual "rewind" through my musical past I'm going to rewind to a more recent point, namely July 2013...
July 3rd - "OK so my favourite band went and appeared on a TV show that i hate more than anything else. OK, it was only the New Zealand X Factor, but its still just as awful. But now we have loads of Manics fans slagging off the band. AND lots of idiots and kids moaning because they'd not heard of the Manics before. It's not the band's fault that these people aren't aware of good music! My friends over at Manic Street Mania made a good point: "To the haters: MSP played "If you tolerate this your children will be next" on X Factor. Now read the song title again.. Got the message??!?"..."
July 18th - "So this 'Brit rock star" with the secret love child that The Sun was talking about a few days ago is Liam Gallagher. I did have a feeling it was Liam, but the following sentence made me think otherwise: "The singer - part of a hugely successful rock band... his hits are played regularly on radio..." unless Beady Eye have staged some sort of miracle success overnight and Radio 1 have had a major overhaul of their playlist, it seems that the writer has forgotten that Oasis aren't together anymore, and it isn't 1996... Since I don't spend money on appalling tabloid rags like The Sun, I only had time to briefly have a little peek at the paper's story. Amusing that they refer to Liam as "the 'Don't Look Back In Anger' star" despite Liam not appearing anywhere on that track. I can place a safe bet that elsewhere the article will probably describe him as "the former Oasis rocker"... "Rocker" being a new mainstream slang for anyone with any musical ability it seems..."
July 22nd - "Whenever visiting a different part of the UK I always try and visit the local record shop, if the place in question still has one. With a small budget, I usually browse in the hope of finding something interesting at a great price and purchasing it on instinct. That record will then carry with it the memory of buying it from that shop (or sometimes boot sale), in that place, on that day. Going out record shopping with a limited budget leaves my musical purchases down to fate, making for some very interesting and often diverse additions to my collection. If I was using iTunes or even that nightmare called Spotify to browse through lists of different albums from the past, I very much doubt I'd have chosen the same ones that I have recently purchased from shops and boot sales. Today was a majorly hot day, as the UK continued to wilt in the heatwave, and my day was spent at the beach in Weymouth. Whilst in the town I discovered a shop near the beach called Disc-O-Box, where I purchased a rather scratched copy of 'LA Woman' by The Doors for 50p. In a small road called Mitchell Street was a shop called Chunes that stocked a wide and mixed array of second hand vinyl, with a few new releases. After my visit I emerged from the shop with 7" singles by 808 State, Peter Gabriel and Womack And Womack for 20p each, and a copy of Orange Juice's classic 'Rip It Up' for 50p. Well worth the visit."
July 23rd - "Who cares about a royal baby, I wanted see Liam Gallagher on the front of the papers for the 3rd day running. No justice in this world..."
"What a weird story... Sacha Baron Cohen quits the forthcoming biopic of Freddie Mercury over creative differences with Queen. "Brian May and Roger Taylor, who have script and director approval, can't agree with Cohen on the type of movie they want to make. The band apparently want the biopic to be a PG affair, while the actor is keen to take a grittier approach..." May and Taylor shitting on Freddie's legacy AGAIN. Trying to tone down or completely deny his wild lifestyle is something he would have hated! Any film that's a PG just doesn't represent Mercury's life..."
(Fellow GIITTV writer Sean BW Parker replied: "Life has been business for Roger Taylor and Brian May since about 1980, mainly pushed by Taylor, I'm positive. Really horrible, defecatory tosser...")
July 26th - "Quote of the day: "Jesus wept, Toploader!!!! Wrong on so many levels.""
July 27th - "After @BBCRadio1's Punk Rock Show turned shit a few years ago I'm pleased to hear about @johnrobb77's new show on @TeamRockRadio 10pm Sunday nights."
Back next week. With some luck it may see the return of my usual "Rewind", which will feature more golden memories from 1995. Bye for now.