Sunday, 12 October 2014

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #53

After a lengthy break, the RW/FF round up returns with new albums from Martin Carr, Stephen Jones, Jupiter Lion and more, as well as incredible sounds from Gala Drop, D-Pulse, Antenna Happy, Kinkajous, The Charlatans, School, Occupanther, Velvet Morning, High Hazels and others. As well as all that, an interview with Levellers frontman Mark Chadwick, three compilations full of the most essential new music, and some recent edition of the RW/FF Radio show...

I expect everybody thought that the RW/FF round-up had come to an end after the length of the time since the last one. It's been a while hasn't it? Just over three months to be precise. Originally my intention was to rest the round-up for a few weeks in order to give me more time to finish a load of album and track reviews. The new music came thick and fast, and trying to find time to write about the best of it became difficult. So instead of spending time doing a round-up each week, I've had to dedicate that time to catching up with the list of great records that have appeared over recent months. In August, I went from working 4 hours a day to a full-time 9 to 5 job, which has meant less spare time. However, since I finally got broadband installed at home a month or so ago, I actually have more time to write and publish the site, and no longer have to go to other people's houses to get online.


So it's taken a while to adjust to that change of routine, and to catch up with all the planned album reviews that have built up. Hence, over the next few weeks you will find reviews of albums that are a month or so old. But it's good to keep records in the spotlight for a bit longer rather than moving on to the next thing as soon as release week is over.

I was planning to publish reviews of at least six different albums over the last couple of weeks, but instead dedicated many evenings and most of the weekend writing an epic in-depth history of Brighton legends the Levellers, which also featured an interview I recently did with frontman Mark ChadwickThe writer of this article was only 11 years old when he first witnessed the Levellers playing 'Just The One' on Top Of The Pops in late 1995. I put that single on my Christmas list immediately afterwards and have been guided through life by the band's music ever since. And 19 years later I'm here talking to none other than Mark.

Among other things he discussed misperceptions ("we were accused of selling out when we released out first independent single"), the upcoming Greatest Hits tour of the UK in November ("a rock n roll spectacular") and a career still going strong after over 25 years ("it's gone by in the blink of an eye"). Read the whole article HERE. During that week I also featured a Levellers track every day as 'Rewind' selections, those and other posts about the band can be found HERE.

But I suppose since the round-up has been completely absent over the summer, I'd better fill you in on what's been happening while I've been gone. You can trawl through all the daily posts from the last few months at rwffmusic.blogspot.com if you want a full update. But I'll keep this catch-up as brief as possible... All of the essential new music featured on the site is compiled onto a regular mixtape, and the last three editions of The RW/FF Compilation can be found below.


From three months ago, Volume 21 was summer special of the RW/FF Compilation, the perfect soundtrack for the long sunny days we (sometimes) enjoyed. It features First Aid Kit, Spies,Tape Waves, Stephen Jones, Goat, Tony Allen ft. Damon Albarn, James, Night Sports, Lee Coombs and Kostas G, Epic45, Echaskech, Manic Street Preachers, False-Heads, The Phantom Band, Gang Of Youths, Mat Motte And The People Who Hate Him, Negative Lovers, and Hell Death Fury.








After about a month and a half, it was somewhat appropriate that the next one should arrive in September as the evenings began to start sooner. Volume 22 featured TELEPOPMUSIK FT. MARK GARDENER, PLANK!, THE FAUNS, CHILDHOOD, THE FAMILY RAIN, MARTIN CARR, DAMON ALBARN, DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979, ERLAND AND THE CARNIVAL, INTERPOL, JOHNNY MARR, MORRISSEY, THE VINES, ROBERT PLANT, SPARKS, and TAPE WAVES.



Taking us up to October, here is the latest compilation, which is one of my favourite ones yet. Volume 23 is a bit more far-out than the last one, a journey that begins with some krautrock before venturing through psychedelica, shoegaze, electronica, post-punk and ending with a few helpings of disco. It consisted of new tracks from CAMERA, ZIGURI, NEGATIVE LOVERS, TRUCKER, RICHARD FEARLESS, GUT UND IRMLER, THE FALL, BLACK RIVERS, DARK HORSES, THE ASTEROID #4, THE HOBBES FANCLUB, GUM TAKES TOOTH, TO ROCOCCO ROT, HEADMAN, and THE JUAN MACLEAN.





Martin Carr - 'The Breaks' (Tapete Records)
Martin Carr was the songwriter behind the Boo Radleys, who built up an army of fans in the 90s putting out brilliantly experimental pop records and even cracked the mainstream with the eternal 1995 radio staple 'Wake Up Boo'. It's a pleasure to find Carr returning with his first album in five years. 

Backed by a group of musicians including RW/FF favourite Andy Fung (Cymbient, Derrero, No Thee No Ess) on drums, the album lifts you into the clouds right from the beginning as it opens with 'The Santa Fe Skyway', a glorious helping of Stax-flavoured dream-soul that scores top marks all round, particularly for its joyous instrumentation. The thriving, organ driven high point 'St Peter In Chains' is a glorious burst of vitality where Carr masks dark subjects with a bright tune, a trick he has pulled off so well in the past. With the beautifully haunting 60s colours of 'Mountain', we get a classic Carr moment, immaculately arranged and built on the sort of great song crafting that would make it a standout on any of his previous albums. After experimenting with electronics on previous releases, 'The Breaks' has a more organic feel and each song has plenty of room to breathe, with a humble warmth and modesty radiating sublimely from 'I Don't Think I'll Make It', another standout moment that demonstrates his undiminished brilliance as a songwriter.

There's more intimacy throughout this record, which allows the listener a deeper insight into Carr's life and a swim through his headspace. By the end of 'The Breaks', we've learned a lot more about this man and feel like we're finally a little bit closer to actually knowing him. And any album that features the line "If Jesus ran a chip shop all our fish would be free" has to be worth checking out doesn't it? 

Flawed but charmingly understated, and occasionally wonderful, it's a welcome return from one of British music's unsung heroes. Read the full 7.2/10 review HERE.





Stephen Jones - 'Ambition Expired' (Self Released) - The first full-length album to bear ex Babybird cult hero Stephen Jones' own name since 2003's 'Almost Cured Of Sadness' finds the Sheffield-based musical genius delivering a breathtaking set of strange, beautiful and transcendental pieces. Released back in the summer, it's still played often here and is one of my favorite records of this year. Read a full review of it HERE.




Jupiter Lion - 'Brighter' (BCore Disc Records) - The excellent Valencia-based trio Jupiter Lion first captured RW/FF's ears early in 2013 after the release of their impressive self titled debut album. 'Brighter' is their second full length effort, and takes their Krautrock-infused sound to new heights and further dimensions. If driving rhythms, relentless bass, nagging synths and beautifully elevating melodies are your tonic, then this cosmic helping of Spanish post-psychedelic krautrock is something you will need to hear. Pushing into new galaxies and leaving an awe-inspiring trail of light, 'Brighter' is a ball of momentum that flies with powerful trajectory.8.2/10. Review HERE.




Other album reviews that can be found on the RW/FF site include the following:


And if you're not feeling fully up to date on the latest music news, all of the RW/FF music news round-ups can be found HERE.

This week I have been listening to new stuff including Toydrum's brilliant 'Distant Focus Vol 1' EP, the superb 'Mirrors Fold' from Gum Takes Tooth, and the French trio NLF3's new 'Pink Renaissance' album. Another thing I've been getting my ears around is an extraordinary record entitled 'i!' by an artist also known as i!. I found out about it via producer Dominic Bailey, who is immensely pleased with his involvement in the album. i! is in fact Bath-based multi-instrumentalist Rod Brakes, who is also a member of South West outfit The Blood Choir. I'll be talking more about i! over the next few weeks.

More essential new music...



A gorgeous, mesmeric explosion of sounds and cultures. 'Sun Gun''s entrancing keys burn a sonic path through funk-filled avenues, resulting in a dizzying mixture of rhythm and atmosphere. Tremendous stuff. Released on November 24, 'II' is Gala Drop's first full-length record in six years, and sees the four-piece join forces with Detroit ex-pat Jerry The Cat (Funkadelic, Parliament, Derrick May, Moodymann, Theo Parrish) to pull together the variant strands of Motor City's aural lineage with the more off the cuff Balearic-flecked grooves of their native Lisbon in a hypnotic melting pot of sound. Afonso Simões from the group sees the similarities between Lisbon and Detroit too, although for him it's the explosion of creative styles and tangents that he draws parallels with: "Detroit wound up a city with so much contamination between styles, from Motown to garage rock and then the birth of techno. Lisbon felt like that when I moved here too, I was going out to a techno club at the weekend but going to see a garage rock show or some free jazz band in the week. The post-Millennium Lisbon has been very fertile musically speaking."







Upliftingly melodic and coloured with jazz flavours, this new track from Kinkajous makes for a splendid introduction to a rather interesting group of musicians. Kinkajous are a London based band and the latest project of French duo Adrien Cau and Benoit Parmentier. Inspired by the new electro-acoustic scene, including the likes of Cinematic Orchestra, Jaga Jazzist, Bonobo, Ibrahim Maalouf and Portico Quartet, Kinkajous alternates powerful drums and mesmerizing sounds with the sensitivity of the clarinet in a unique way. Their line-up consists of Adrien Cau (clarinet/bass clarinet), Benoît Parmentier (drums/percussions), Layla Kim (synths/piano), Rick Tipton (samples/electronic sounds) and Sjur Opsal (bass/double bass). Their eponymous debut EP will be released on the 18th October 2014, and will include this as one of the original tracks, plus a collaboration with Mariama as well as remixes by CHPLN and Krunzcahrt.







Here's an absolutely superb new track that started off my Saturday absolutely beautifully a few weekends ago, when I discovered it in my inbox upon checking my emails in the morning. It's the lead track from Antenna Happy's wonderful new 'Pinto' EP, which will be the first 12" release on Reinhardt Records. After the track builds progressively out of soft, pulsing rhythms and warm swathes of harmonious electronics, it thrives over the course of nine minutes, combining subtle elements from various genres to form a beautifully tranquil and entrancing sense of movement. Antenna Happy is Brighton-based musician Nathan Pope, and his fine new EP is released on September 22. If you think this radio edit below is good, then brace yourselves for the brilliance of the full length featured on the record...





This shadowy, haunting new track is the first new music from The Charlatans in four years. 'Talking In Tones' was released on September 29, and was available on a very limited edition 7-inch (500 copies), which also featured a remix from Grumbling Fur. The song is the first to be taken from band's forthcoming untitled 12th album. The upcoming LP will also be the first following the death of drummer Jon Brookes, who passed away last year in 2013 after a battle with cancer.

Keyboardist Tony Rogers said: "Jon was adamant that there was going to be another Charlatans record, and you have to put that into your own thoughts." The Charlatans have also announced a one-off show at The Garage in Highbury, London, supported by Grumbling Fur. 







The debut single from Scandinavian four piece School is a wondrous burst of lo-fi dream pop that stirs the musical senses. 'So Long' was released a few weeks back on September 1, and three more tracks can be found on their Soundcloud page HERE. The Göteborg-based group is made up of Per Svensson, Alice Botéus, Felix Andersson and Efraim Kent. 'So Long' has to be one of the most bewitchingly beautiful things I've heard in ages, and excites with its mesmeric, sparkling energy. School only formed late last year in the autumn of 2013, and are already creating something of a stir. Keep them firmly on your musical radars...











'Astronomers' is a superb helping of slow-burning intergalactic beauty that utilizes its uncluttered musical space wonderfully. You can find it on 'Consequence', the long awaited debut album from Saint-Petersburg based D-Pulse. For the past few years the band's melancholic sound, echoing from the numerous factories and forests of their home city, Izhevsk, fused with exceptional production, has established D-Pulse as one of the most vivid and respected live acts on the contemporary Russian indie and electronic music scene.
Released in a few weeks time on October 16, 'Consequence' is released via the band's very own imprint, Vernal Records.






A propellent electronic pulse, piercing techno keys and a euphoric haze of ambience come together on Midimúm's wondrous reworking of a track by Occupanther, the alias of Munich-based musician Martin Brugger. Amazingly, this is available to download for free at the Antime Records Soundcloud page HERE and via the music player below. This is actually the first thing I've heard from Midimúm since last year's splendid 'Junk Beach' single, one of the songs that soundtracked my summer in 2013. Midimúm is Martin Steer, who also runs the Antime label.






'Misbehave' is the latest single from Sheffield outfit High Hazels, and comes from their upcoming self titled debut album. It sounds a bit like the ridiculously underrated Scottish legends the Soup Dragons playing psychedelic 60s pop, and that is indeed a good thing. Crammed with strong hooks, spiky riffs and ear catching production, 'Misbehave' is something that you'll need to hear if you have a fondness for melodic indie rock n roll. The single was released a few weeks ago on September 15, and was produced by Matt Peel. Further proof that Sheffield is currently producing some outstanding indie pop...





One of my favourite new bands of the last couple of years have recently signed to RIP Records and have just released a fine new track, entitled 'Green Whale'. 

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like they're floating through the clouds while immersed in Velvet Morning's calm, hallucinogenic musical flavours. After putting out the highly impressive 'Velvet Moon' EP earlier this year, the excellent 'Barrett Land' single followed, and now 'Green Whale' continues their promising run of great material. A review of the 'Velvet Moon' EP can be found HERE.




The most recent edition of RW/FF Radio was a shorter than usual affair, since a Levellers radio special that I was hosting overran. When the show made it in to the air 10 minutes late, new music included stuff from Kinkajous, The Charlatans, Martyn, Thom Yorke, Early Ghost, Aphex Twin, Tied To The Mast, Happyness, and Black Strobe. As well as those, I featured a hyperactive end of show banger from 1997 by Souvlaki



The week previous to that, I took a week off doing the show and left it in the capable hands of Jason B, who extended his usual Dance Class to an extra hour. That show from September 29 can be heard HERE



The show from three weeks ago has only just made it online, due to me being so busy. That edition from September 22 begins with five minutes of madness that was broadcasting on the station prior to the show going on air. The show itself features new sounds from School, Antenna Happy, Jupiter Lion, Black Rivers, Dark Horses, Johnny Marr and Jamie T, and a brilliant Seiliog remix of a Manic Street Preachers track, as well as older tracks from Ocean Colour Scene, King Prawn and Format.






Rewind

In case you're new to the round-up, or have completely forgotten what it usually featured, the 'Rewind' part of the column is the bit where I talk about the music of the past. For a while now I have been documenting my memories of the music Ithat has soundtracked my life with a series of articles. 






Due to having to make new music a priority, it's been a while since the last instalment of my Musical Memories. But the most recent reached up to February 1996, and can be found as part of the last RW/FF round-up HERE.

On another past-related tip, it was recently brought to my attention that the complete first series of TFI Friday had been uploaded to YouTube. So for the last three weeks, I have enjoyed watching an episode of the show every Friday night, as I did in the 90s. This led to me wanting to relive another one of my rituals of the 90s: catching up with The ITV Chart Show every Saturday morning. I remember the ones I watched in the early part of the decade featuring mostly horrific stuff, so I decided to begin with a few videos of the specialist charts and Top 10s from January 1994, before moving on chronologically. Yesterday (October 11) was February 94. In fact you can follow the Chart Shows of the 90s with me, by subscribing to this playlist that I will be updating with the latest month each Saturday. Amusing, nostalgic and cringe-inducing in equal measures. The playlist so far can be found HERE.

Once I have a few reviews out of the way, and am a bit further into my Musical Memories, I am in fact going to begin going through these old shows on the site, so keep a look our for those...

See you next week.


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