Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Track Of The Day: Merrymouth - 'Without You'

Some will disagree with the following statement, but only because they haven't heard the evidence... Simon Fowler of Ocean Colour Scene is one of the most underrated British songwriters of the last 20 years. Don't agree? Take a listen to 'Wenlock Hill', the new album from his other band Merrymouth. Originally formed as a backing band for a folk-flavoured Fowler solo project, Merrymouth soon evolved into a great band in their own right, and also features Fowler's Ocean Colour Scene bandmate Dan Sealey, himself a very talented songwriter and vocalist. It features guest appearances from John McCusker, and Chas Hodges of Chas and Dave. 'Wenlock Hill' is their second album and follows on from 2012's self titled debut, which you can read a review of HERE. Opening up and embracing more eclectic sounds, the new LP is out next week on May 6, and a review will be coming to these pages very soon. In the meantime, the Monolith Cocktail has recently published a great write-up on 'Wenlock Hill' HERE... The melodious first single, 'Without You' is described as "a love song about being apart and the loneliness of a long-distance relationship." And beautiful it is too.



REWIND: The High Fidelity - 'Luv Dup'

This week, I have been featuring music that I might not have got into if the Britpop scene of the mid 90s didn't lead me there. Because of Blur playing a session on his show, I began listening to John Peel regularly. And it was on his show that I first heard this lot... A lot of people will remember Sean Dickson as the frontman of baggy combo The Soup Dragons, but who else remembers his subsequent outfit The High Fidelity? They were played on The Evening Session and John Peel regularly in the late 90s and early 2000s, and were responsible for some superb leftfield pop gems. "You have to remember that I've been fucking about with sounds -- to put it nicely -- for about 14 years," said Dickson. "I've always mutated sound, you know, looping things and cutting things up. You spend your life kind of taking things in your head, the same way a computer saves things on a hard drive, and now and then, you've got to back up what's there. The High Fidelity is a retrospect of my head over the last few years." 

Their 'Demonstration' album from 2000 is overall a messy and slightly flawed collection of tracks that dash from genre to genre, always ensuring that the instrumentation is interesting and unique. One instrument used often in their music was the omnichord, a vintage synthesiser. John Peel shared the band's enthusiasm for the instrument, and when they gave him an omnichord as a 60th birthday present, it led to Peel co-writing and performing on 'Pig Might Fly', one of the tracks on the band's low key second LP, 'The Omnichord Album' from 2001. Although the band never announced a split, they haven't released anything in 13 years, and Dickson now does remixes under the alias Hi-Fi Sean. Would be great to see them back one day... Especially if it means more songs as wonderful as 'Luv Dup'.



Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Track Of The Day: Manic Street Preachers - 'Walk Me To The Bridge'

Welsh legends the Manic Street Preachers release their new album 'Futurology' on July 7. Taken from it, here is the new single, which comes with a video directed by Keiran Evans. The insistently catchy 'Walk Me To The Bridge' certainly seems to have more life than the melancholic, rather languid 'Rewind The Film' album from last year. Although it may initially sound like it was written about the disappearance of former lyricist Richey Edwards, it's actually "about the Øresund Bridge that joins Sweden and Denmark." Explains Nicky Wire. "A long time ago when we were crossing that bridge I was flagging and thinking about leaving the band (the “fatal friend”). It’s about the idea of bridges allowing you an out of body experience as you leave and arrive in different places." Musically it comes imbued with 80's rock bombast as well as a momentous European vibe that recalls Bowie's Berlin years. According to the press release ‘Futurology’ is “Furious, propulsive and expansive, ‘Futurology’ is the sound of the Manics at their very best – a record inspired by permanent revolution, modern art and Autobahns.” Special guests include Green Gartside (Scritti Politti), Welsh Music Prize 2013 winner Georgia Ruth, Cian Ciarán (Super Furry Animals) and German film star Nina Hoss.


"old songs leave long shadows..."



REWIND: Beastie Boys - 'Super Disco Breakin''

Due to certain misinformed sections of the music press claiming that Britpop was "damaging" and (most laughably of all) "a cultural abomination that set music back", I've decided to demonstrate some of the music I discovered one way or another via Britpop. With the exception of Bowie, The Beatles and Queen, I'd argue that EVERYTHING I listen to now leads back to that pathway that Britpop put me on. Because of Blur, Oasis, Suede and Pulp, I became interested in indie music. Because of this, I started listening to The Evening Session, the legendary Radio 1 show that played that type of music. But they played a whole lot more too, showing me the wider picture of alternative music. In 1998, the programme started playing the (then) new Beastie Boys single 'Intergalactic'. Since I was also buying the NME at this point (again, due to wanting to read more about Britpop bands) I was also encouraged by a glowing review of their 'Hello Nasty' album, which I bought the week it was released. From it, the opener 'Super Disco Breakin'', bursting into life with the immortal line "well it's 50 cups of coffee and you know it's on". The album features another one of my all-time favourite hip hop cuts, 'The Move', which can be heard HERE.




Monday, 28 April 2014

Track Of The Day: Damon Albarn - 'Heavy Seas Of Love'


At long last, one of popular music's greatest innovators of the last two decades finally releases his first proper solo album today. The legendary Damon Albarn's beautiful, dark, funky and introspective 'Everyday Robots' is released today, and a review of it will be coming to the 'ALBUM REVIEWS' section over the next few days. Some people have said the album's closer 'Heavy Seas Of Love' sounds like Michael Jackson. Some say the melody during the verse reminds them of 'Daydream Believer' by The Monkees. What it sounds like to these ears is an upliftingly soulful moment blessed with a magnificently emotive Albarn vocal, countered nicely by Brian Eno's contrasting guest tones. RW/FF will be at Damon's upcoming date in Portsmouth on May 31, so expect a live review shortly after...



REWIND: Massive Attack - 'Angel'

Over the last few days, while some of us have been celebrating the 20th anniversary of Blur's 'Parklife', certain (clueless) sections of the media have been using the occasion as an excuse to dismiss the entire Britpop era, which was of course the last great popular music movement, and the last scene to define a generation. These people make the ridiculous claim that Britpop was "damaging" and it "set music back". Hmmm, funny that, because I was just 9 when it happened, and all kids like me knew was chart music. Britpop's rise put other types of indie music in the spotlight, and opened the doors for other sorts of alternative music. Britpop's main bands may have been a bit basic, but there's no denying that their success provided a gateway for mainstream listeners to discover more challenging and interesting stuff. 


Without Britpop, I don't think Radiohead's 'Paranoid Android' would have been a massive chart hit, Spiritualized wouldn't have started enjoying Top 40 entries, and I don't think acts like Massive Attack would have been as popular. Although I already knew about the band (they came from nearby Bristol), I didn't begin listening o their music until I started hearing it on Radio 1's Evening Session. A show I listened to in order hear the Britpop bands. Like I said, stepping stones, gates and pathways. The striking 1998's 'Mezzanine' was the first Massive Attack album I ever bought, and the menacing 'Angel' opened that record.





Sunday, 27 April 2014

REVIEW: Halo Blind - 'Occupying Forces' (Nautical Records)

The sound created by York-based Halo Blind is what happens when five skilled musicians with backgrounds in various groups, backing bands and session recordings bind together to form a solid unit. Imagine my surprise when I found out that this new up and coming band features bassist Stuart Fletcher, who used to be in The Seahorses. Small world. The band's blend of rock, indie and prog more often than not provides a pleasing listening experience. 

With the intriguing 'Better', the band's second LP opens with dramatic, urgent piano notes before interesting rhythms and plaintively atmospheric vocals enter the picture along with the dark chime of guitars, the mood grows heavier throughout until they let it rip in the climactic final minutes. It's probably fair to say they've learned a few tricks from Radiohead, but they are of course, not the first band to be influenced by other musicians. This influence is accentuated by the vocals of Andy Knights and without the strength of the songwriting and arrangements, people would have dismissed them as soundalikes. Why deny yourself the pleasure of this fine music just because the singer's voice happens to sound like someone else? The songs elevate the band's music into a place of its own, and the mixture of flavours ensures that Halo Blind's existence is necessary. As well as bringing plenty of their own style, they do things that Radiohead aren't able to do anymore, and they're not afraid to bring out the guitars. But if 'OK Computer' was the sound of pre millennial tension, then this is very much the sound of 21st century unrest.

You'd be mistaken for thinking that this is all Thom Yorke-esque paranoia though, in fact what we have here is an admirably diverse album. And when Knights and Chris Johnson swap over the vocal duties, these switches immediately bring out different sides to the band's music. Taking a stand against complacency is the explosive 'Revolutionary Soul', which ticks with burning angst and seethes with the sort of raw, socio political anger that is bound to inspire plenty of fists to hit the air when played live. Imagine if Britpop suddenly went punk. The following 'Mirage' is the third of three opening highlights, displaying a knack for beautifully emotive vocal melodies and a chiming sadness that again recalls the gentler moments of 'OK Computer'. Stunning. It casts a long shadow over the bleak 'Saturate', which could have done with some work on the lyrical/musical combination during the verses, but does have a lovely outro. The double bill of 'Torrential' and 'Downpour' is a mixed blessing: although the former is indeed a darkly anthemic indie rock epic, the latter isn't quite as effective. It's a bravely eclectic record, playing around with brass bands on the brief divider 'End Of The First Side', an idea that in an odd way almost echoes Blur's albums of the mid 90s. 


Meanwhile, the prominently mad 'Brain Dogs' mixes hard rock riffs with raw funk beats and hungry, unhinged vocals. It even recalls ridiculously underrated 90s legends Mansun at times. Ultimately, the chorus lacks the punch it really requires, but at times it feels like that doesn't matter when the rest of it is so brilliantly mad. You'll either love it or hate it, or like me, change your opinion on it several times. The undeniable influence of Radiohead is again conspicuous during highlight 'False Alarm', where hypnotic introspection is paired with a cold sense of paranoia before something indescribable emerges and takes it elsewhere, once again ensuring that the music is not overly derivative. Echoes of the aforementioned Oxford group can also be heard within the fidgety electronic percussion and processed voices of the fantastic 'Analogue', although there is a greater emphasis on melody and structure.

The haunting, sparse instrumentation of 'The Puppet' focuses in on masterfully placed piano chords and and a solemnly soaring vocal, as a nicely composed tune is underpinned by a graceful sense of hope. Elsewhere, the mournful 'Smithereens' doesn't quite hit the mark, despite a simple and superb cry of guitars near the end, as well as a surprising touch of ukelele that proves to be an unexpectedly well suited embellishment. The dark melodrama of 'Coma' is almost something Brett Anderson would be proud of, and offers one last burst of surging emotion before the album closes with the dreamy haze of 'Control'.

Slightly overlong, perhaps some necessary editing would improved the end product, but that's no reason not to enjoy the many high points of 'Occupying Forces'. Ambitious, and fearlessly eclectic it is. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but you can't fault them for having a go. Diverse and epic. 7/10



Track Of The Day: Thought Forms - 'For The Moving Stars'

Here's a brand new Thought Forms video for the explosive 'For The Moving Stars'. It was made by their Invada labelmate CUTS and features Bristol skating legend Spex. According to the band "the video is about never giving up on what you enjoy doing in life." The track goes off with a bang from the outset, and the thriving energy, zippy riffs and MBV flavours provide a brilliant moment that's as accessible and immediate as this band have ever sounded. It's taken from the band's recent split LP with Esben And The Witch, which you can read of review of HERE

Invada's Reg D Weeks spoke to The Quietus about the story behind the video: "I first became aware of a lanky skateboarder called Spex in the mid 80s while skateboarding in south Bristol. The skating trend had sailed over the Atlantic from the States and was in full swing by around 1987. Spex was a ridiculous talent and was known all over the south-west of England and further. On days where the cream of San Francisco's skateboarding community would come over for exhibition shows - Spex would turn up and not only rival them but put most to shame... 


The entire Bristol skate scene was huge and the worship all us teenagers had for this individual was unmatched for anyone else. Up until around '86 my music tastes were simply HEAVY METAL - nothing more nothing less - it was all about Van Halen, Motörhead, Judas Priest and of course Maiden. When the skate scene started to take over my world in between school and sleeping, I began to see imported VHS videos coming from the States. Videos like 'Streets On Fire' introduced me to to a new form of music I'd not really known of: hardcore. Bands like Black Flag, Firehose, Minutemen, Blast, etc, became the mainstay of my listening and from that moment introduced me to all kinds of alternative music.


"When I heard the Thought Forms track 'For The Moving Stars', I wanted to have a skate video to accompany it; it immediately conjured up images of kids on the West Coast of America skating along to an early Hüsker Dü or Sonic Youth track - I mentioned this to Geoff and he was in agreement, but we didn't know what to shoot or who to get involved. Geoff asked me what Spex was up to nowadays - in a weird twist of fate, my kids and his go to the same school - but I hadn't actually seen him in years. I tracked his number down from a mutual friend and then set up a meeting between us with Invada's latest signing CUTS, who not makes music but incredible videos too. Spex, despite having serious skating injuries over the past year, was obliging when we played him the track. Spex is now in his very late 40s and has skated and surfed nearly his entire life. He is still a legend to a whole generation of people and to have him on an Invada video is not only a holy grail for us, but the fact he understood what we were trying to achieve by fusing music and skating in a video means everything. The man that hasn't given up."



REWIND: Embrace - 'All You Good Good People'

When I used to read about Embrace in the NME and Melody Maker during the 90s, they excited me. When I heard the music that they made, I was not disappointed. Their first few EPs were superb, and their 1998 debut album 'The Good Will Out' was something that I raced out to Woolworths to buy on its day of release after reading an ecstatic 10 out of 10 review in the NME. While I still don't think it's quite 100%, Embrace's first full length is blessed with marvellous songs, many of them underrated would-be classics. The second album was great but not so magical, and the third one had it's moments. But everything Embrace have released since that hasn't really been much cop, and their new album (their first for seven years) is no different. Read my review of it HERE. If you're new to Embrace, whatever you do, don't judge them on their new material. Maybe they should have split a decade ago, so they'd be remembered more like THIS... Sean BW Parker from Monolith Cocktail recently interviewed frontman Danny McNamara HERE.




Saturday, 26 April 2014

Track Of The Day: Eels - 'Where I'm Going'

Quite simply THE best thing Mark 'E' Everett has recorded in years. The new album '' is also the strongest and most consistent Eels record in at least a decade. Closing the album in joyous fashion, 'Where I'm Going' is the sound of man who has lived a tough, eventful and often sad life managing to find a dazzlingly bright way through the gloom in order to reach an ultimately happier destination. And it's beautiful. 'The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett' was released earlier this week (April 22) and is E's most introspective and profound effort since 1998's classic 'Electro Shock Blues'...


"Can't say I know what will happen tomorrow.
I can't say I know if its joy or sorrow.
I can't say how long I'll stand at the line that I'm towing.
But I've got a good feeling 'bout where I'm going.

All you see, a world so full of neat.
And all I need is a pocket full of seeds.
Sunflowers shooting up to a sky that is glowing.
And I've got a good feeling 'bout where I'm going.

Pray for rain; it might not come.
Can't save the day; save someone.
I can't say if the flowers will keep on growing.
But I've got a good feeling 'bout where I'm going."


REWIND: The Delgados - 'Pull The Wires From The Wall'

After many years, I have FINALLY added an album by The Delgados to my collection after I found a copy of their second LP 'Peloton' a couple of weeks ago for a bargain price. I've been meaning to buy it for a LONG time. I don't know how I spent so long NOT listening to Emma Pollock's voice, as it is truly sensational. 

Steve Lamacq used to play this amazing single on Radio 1's much-missed Evening Session during the cold autumn evenings of 1998, and what a wonderful tune it was. The band also played a number of John Peel sessions and released a number of other singles which I still own on 7" vinyl... 'Pull The Wires From The Wall' gave the group their first chart hit (if you can call number 69 a hit). 'Pull the Wires From the Wall' was voted number one in John Peels' Festive Fifty countdown of 1998. They split in 2005 after Stewart Henderson quit due to no longer being able to "to pour so much of my energy and time into something that never quite seemed to get the attention or respect [he] felt it deserved. The band are well known for founding the Chemikal Underground label, which the four ex-members of the group still run together.



Friday, 25 April 2014

REWIND: Blur - 'Girls And Boys'

Today is a landmark day in my life. A day that has made me feel my age. The day that THE album of my generation turns twenty years old. Blur's seminal 'Parklife' was released on April 25, 1994. In celebration of this, today will be 'Parklife' Day on RW/FF. I was lucky enough to be around as Britpop was on its way to becoming the most phenomenal musical movement in years. As a ten year old kid, it seemed even more thrilling to me. And it all happened at just the right time to influence my life in a massive way...

20 years later, and whenever I hear that intro to 'Girls And Boys', the same excitement happens. It's the same now as it was two decades ago, and still sends shivers down the spine. Knowing that what was to follow would be a truly special time. THE sound of something BIG announcing its arrival. Then there's the clang of the Coxon guitar entrance. One of the defining moments in popular music history I think. Before 'Parklife' was released, I was keen on Bowie and The Beatles, but there didn't seem to be any great present-day bands around who represented MY generation. If it wasn't for 'Parklife', British alternative guitar music might not have become such a big part of the mainstream. If that didn't happen, I probably wouldn't have discovered the joys of indie and wouldn't have become such a massive music lover. It put me on a path that led to lots of other paths, and I have Damon Albarn and Blur to thank for that. Cheers boys. Read a short article on how 'Parklife' changed my life HERE.



'Parklife' Day: Blur's 'Parklife' artwork explained

In April 1994, things were changing rapidly in the world of British music, thanks to the release of a seminal album. Blur's third LP 'Parklife' catapulted Britpop into the public eye and changed the state of the mainstream for a few wonderful years. Exactly 20 years since its release, here's a look at how the album's iconic sleeve was created...

“Damon bought shares in a greyhound,” says Chris Thompson, the Stylorouge designer who put the ‘Parklife’ sleeve together. “That was taking it totally to extremes – good fun though.”

“By the time we did ‘Parklife’ we were really into appropriating popular imagery,” explains Rob O’Connor, Creative Director at Stylorouge. The designers had previously used a variety of stock photographs and found images for the band's previous two albums, but ideas for the 'Parklife' artwork took them on a ramble around London. Nearly making the cover was a fruit and veg stall in Portobello Road, and for a period of time when the album had the working title of 'Soft Porn', a photo of Buckingham Palace was mooted as the planned image. Can't imagine the LP having as much of an impact if it was called 'Soft Porn'. The little things that change history, eh? 


In March 1994, Damon Albarn called a meeting with the band and Stylorouge and took them to the famous King’s Road in Chelsea, where the sporting images in a William Hill’s betting shop window had caught his attention. Initially, a complete window including other sports was created, but this was simplified. “We centred in on the greyhounds,” explains Graham Coxon “because they had an aggressiveness we liked. We chose the ones with the most teeth. They look deranged, just longing to kill, and there’s a bizarre look in their faces. You just don’t get that look with a footballer – well maybe a little bit.”


An image of racing greyhounds from a sports picture library was eventually chosen as the iconic final design. “Bob Thomas (photographer) couldn’t believe we wanted it for a record cover,” recalls O’Connor. “I’m sure if he’d thought about it he’d have asked for a bit more money.”

With the cover decided, the band and their crew enjoyed an evening at the now-closed Walthamstow Stadium, where the band had their portrait taken. The track itself provided the inspiration for the album’s colour scheme, as well as the themes for the sleeves of the ‘Parklife’ singles. “The whole idea was what blokes do for entertainment,” O’Connor says. “I’ve always thought of Blur as a boys’ band, but one that also appealed to girls, so that fitted in very well – sex for ‘Girls and Boys’, Beer for the ‘Parklife’ single.” 

Coxon doesn't regard the band's artwork too highly: “We were being clever, or possibly lazy, or both. I think Blur has always tried to be a bit too clever,” he says. “I’ve since got into having it a bit more vague rather than packaged. I prefer to fantasise a little more about the record in my hand, rather than having it all set out with the imagery. In a way the ‘Parklife’ sleeve is all intellect, and no soul – but it’s also sensational, graphic and perfect.”





The two images below show a dilapidated Walthamstow Stadium after its closure in 2008. The location has now been redeveloped as flats.


'Parklife' Day: Blur's 'Parklife' 20 years on

Today is a landmark day in my life. A day that has made me feel my age. The day that THE album of my generation turns twenty years old. Blur's seminal 'Parklife' was released on April 25, 1994. In celebration of this, today will be 'Parklife' Day on RW/FF.

I discovered Blur in early 1994. John Hanson was one of my Dad's friends, and me and my brother often used to go out on day trips with him and his son Wilf. That's where I first heard Julian Cope and Jeff Buckley's 'Grace' album being played in his car. He also played a lot of music by a singer called Matthew Sweet, one of Mick Jagger's solo albums and more importantly an Essex band called Blur. They had released an excellent album called 'Modern Life Is Rubbish', and something about these songs struck me. 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. I didn't know it at the time, but lots of others were also discovering how awesome this band were, and something was beginning to happen. Something that would soon change the direction of popular music and inspire a generation of people to form bands...


In February 1995 the same group sensationally swept the board at that year's memorable Brit Awards. You could feel the excitement everywhere, and there was a sense that this group had set a new standard. It felt like this was how things were going to be from then on. It was too good NOT for it to stay that way. Well, that's how it felt at the time anyway. The day after the Brits, the band were household names as well as critic's favourites, and became part of the British culture that had inspired 'Parklife'. I had a recorded copy of it on tape, but this was undoubtedly THE album of the time. So essential that I NEEDED to own a proper copy, and indeed I did end up owning one, purchased on cassette from WH Smith's in Swindon. From what I can remember, I also bought the Simple Minds single 'She's A River', which I probably got because I might have had a pound left after buying Parklife. I can't think of why else I would have bought it at the time, since I didn't have a clue who Simple Minds were.

'Parklife' continued 'Modern Life...''s unmistakably British approach and took it to the next level. There were the instantly infectious hits like 'Girls And Boys' and 'Parklife', stunning moments of reflection such as 'Badhead' and 'To The End' as well as the enjoyably mental likes of 'Jubilee' and 'Bank Holiday'. The album perfectly defined English culture, painting musical pictures of typical British places and a range of eccentric characters. It would be the album that kickstarted the Britpop revolution and transformed Blur into household names.


I was lucky enough to be around as Britpop was on its way to becoming the most phenomenal musical movement in years. As a ten year old kid, it seemed even more thrilling to me. And it all happened at just the right time to influence my life in a massive way...

20 years later, and whenever I hear that intro to 'Girls And Boys', the same excitement happens. It's the same now as it was two decades ago, and still sends shivers down the spine. Knowing that what was to follow would be a truly special time. THE sound of something BIG announcing its arrival. Before 'Parklife' was released, I was keen on Bowie and The Beatles, but there didn't seem to be any great present-day bands around who represented MY generation. If it wasn't for 'Parklife', British alternative guitar music might not have become such a big part of the mainstream. If that didn't happen, I probably wouldn't have discovered the joys of indie and wouldn't have become such a massive music lover. It put me on a path that led to lots of other paths, and I have Damon Albarn and Blur to thank for that. Cheers boys.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Track Of The Day: The Wands - 'The Dawn'

As you may be able to tell from recent Track Of The Day entries, there is a lot of psychedelica around at the moment. And when any genre experiences a revival, there is the inevitability of a lot of substandard groups emerging off the back of the good ones. The Danish duo The Wands are definitely one of the good ones. Consisting of Christian Skibdal and Mads Grä, word is that a debut album is on its way. It will definitely be worth checking out if this single is anything to go by. Released a couple of weeks ago and talking of "magic beans and broken dreams", 'The Dawn' is a hypnotically inviting headrush reverberating with sparkling guitars and the dizzy ambience of 1960s flavours paired with the drones of late 80s space rock. The enchanting haze of the B side 'Totem' is also a fine moment worth a listen.



REWIND: Black Machine - 'How Gee'

Sometimes I'm sat listening to the radio (not shitty commercial FM stations of course) and hear a track I haven't heard for ages. Sometimes the track jogs my memory to such an extent that I feel an uncontrollable urge to feature it as a 'Rewind' selection. So here's something which I just heard on Radcliffe And Maconie's BBC 6Music show, although I can't remember where and when I last heard it. I must have owned it on a compilation years ago because it certainly sounds familiar. 'How Gee' is a single from Italian house-hip hop act Black Machine, who consisted of Marius Percali, Ottorino Menardi and Pippo Landro. By the looks of it they were a bit of a one-hit wonder, as this sax-heavy club smash proved to be their only big success. It was originally released in 1991 before being reissued several times in different countries. They released two LP's, 'Black Machine: The Album' and 'Love and Peace', as well as a string of singles throughout the 90s. Are they still going? My research so far hasn't answered that question...


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Track Of The Day: Halo Blind - 'Better'

Today's Track Of The Day is from an exciting new band whose 'Occupying Forces' album I have been listening to for a week or so now. Drawing on elements of contemporary progressive alternative-rock and indie, and inspired by the likes of Sigur Ros, Pink Floyd, The Boxer Rebellion and Radiohead, the five piece Halo Blind create a hybrid that's engaging, dynamic and immersive. Listeners will no doubt hear a strong Radiohead influence on various tracks, including the superb single 'Better' which opens the album. And if 'OK Computer' was the sound of pre millennial tension, then this is very much the sound of 21st century unrest. Opening with dramatic, urgent piano notes before interesting rhythms, textured guitars and Andy Knights' plaintively atmospheric vocals enter the picture along with the dark chime of guitars, the mood grows heavier throughout until they let it rip in the climactic final minutes. Imagine my surprise when I found out that this new up and coming band features bassist Stuart Fletcher, who used to be in The Seahorses. Small world. Look out for a full album review in the next few days, in the meantime be sure to give 'Better' a listen below. If you sign up to their mailing list HERE, you can get two tracks from the album for free. 



REWIND: Haven - 'Let It Live'

An indie group who were tipped for big things in the early 2000s, and who released a flawed but worth-a-listen debut album called 'Between The Senses' in 2002. Haven formed back in 1996 and took their name from a local campsite in their home region of Cornwall. After being discovered by the former Smiths manager Joe Moss, the band relocated to Manchester and played support slots with acts such as Badly Drawn Boy and Johnny Marr And The Healers. Marr became such a fan that he produced the group's debut LP, which charted at number 26 in February 2002. I bought a 7" copy of the band's 2001 single 'Let It Live' after hearing it on The Evening Session, and still own that same copy today. Someone recently told me that the guys who used to be in Haven are now all in Johnny Marr's current backing band, but after doing some research, I still haven't found any proof of that being true. If anyone has any info on this please comment! One of the reasons I'm featuring Haven today is because I've just found a cheap copy of their second album 'All For A Reason' from 2004, a record that I am completely unfamiliar.



Tuesday, 22 April 2014

LISTEN: RW/FF Radio - 21/04/2014

Apologies that last week's show (14/04-2014) still hasn't been uploaded. This is due to problems with the sound during the original broadcast. But here is last night's edition of RW/FF Radio. This week's show features new music from The Crookes, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, Paul Weller, and Two Skies, as well as magic from the past courtesy of Mansun, Iggy Pop, Symposium, The Teardrop Explodes, Placebo, The Coral and others... all that plus another edition of The Blind Selector, and the "regular" '1 To Z' features a solo track from the icon that is Brett Anderson

Ben P Scott hosts RW/FF Radio every Monday night 7-8pm. As well as the most essential new releases, you'll hear lost treasures and classics from the past. Expect everything from indie, shoegaze, electronica, krautrock, psychedelica, funk, soul, punk, alternative, rock and much more.