Thursday, 5 February 2015

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #54

Ben P Scott's RW/FF round-up returns after a very long break with new albums from Gaz Coombes, The Charlatans and The Phantom Band. There's also new music from Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Django Django, Babybird, Boxed In, The Lucid Dream, Errors, Gulp, The Cribs, Teeth Of The Sea/Evil Blizzard, The Staves, Public Service Broadcasting, Horseman and more. Then in the 'Rewind' part of the round-up, we look at the new chart entries from 20 years ago in January 1995.

Back in October of last year at the end of the 53rd edition of the RW/FF round-up HERE, I said that I would "see you next week". I wasn't lying, or at least I wasn't intending to. A new full-time day job and my newly-engaged marital status forced the RW/FF round-up into its most lengthy hiatus yet, and even posts on the RW/FF website became less regular than before. But my passion for music will never die, and neither will my determination to share and spread it to others. So here for the first time in nearly four months is a brand new round-up of new music. If you want to catch up with everything that would've been featured in between October and now, it's all at the RW/FF website HERE.






Following on from 2012's 'Here Come The Bombs', the second LP from ex Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes sees him settling into life as a solo artist by breaking down the sort of boundaries that would have proved more difficult for a guitar trio.
Experimenting and moving forwards while never misplacing that gift for brilliant songwriting, 'Matador' is the most vital and consistent Coombes record has delivered in at least a decade. Aside from a few contributions from drummer Loz Colbert and keyboardist brother Charlie Coombes, all the instruments on the album were played by Gaz himself, and it looks like this new independence and increased creative control has paid off.

Piano chords hang over glitchy rhythms on the opening 'Buffalo' before tumbling into a grand wallop of a chorus, and on the sparse, slow building earworm '20/20', flourishes of electronics evolve into a busy, authoritive groove. The European flavoured energy bolt 'The English Ruse' channels the influence of Neu! and Can, while the dreamy swoon of 'The Girl Who Fell To Earth' pairs elegant acoustic guitars with sweeping melotron strings, and spacious highlight 'Detroit' runs on an easy moving kinetic pace, countering dark lyrics with dazzling melodies and the anthemic power of its magnificent chorus.



Rolling out some psychedelic gospel funk, the intricately layered 'Needle's Eye' delivers an uplifting chorus reminiscent of 'Young Americans' era Bowie, while the introspective piano and cinematic tones of the carefully textured 'Seven Walls' play brilliant accompaniment to the hungry, yearning quality of the voice. 'Oscillate' takes a trip through eastern percussion and psychedelic atmospheres, while the progressive confidence of 'On The Wire' sees more stellar melodies tied to a refreshing backdrop of panicked drum loops and superbly placed chords. The intimate closing title track finds the sun setting on a fine record which builds something effectively focused out of a thriving array of diverse influences.

20 years after bursting onto the scene, Gaz Coombes is on a roll once again. 8.5/10























Due to having less spare time than before, RW/FF Radio has had to come to an end. Maybe one day I'll revive it, but due to various problems behind the scenes at Melksham Town Sound (which I won't go into), the show has been put to bed for now. The final edition (which I didn't know was the final one at the time) can be heard HERE. Regular listeners to RW/FF Radio may have also enjoyed Dance Class With Jason B, which used to follow afterwards. That show is still broadcasting every Monday at the new time of 6pm, and Jason B is also releasing a series of monthly mixes, which can all be heard via his Mixcloud page HERE. Melksham Town Sound is also attempting to break the world record for the world's longest radio show. More info on that can be found HERE.

What with The Charlatans and Gaz Coombes both releasing great albums last week, the brand new one from The Phantom Band has fallen under the radar for some... but it's fucking excellent. On the first few listens it's recognisably darker than 'Strange Friend', which came out only 7 months ago and was recorded at the same time as most of these tracks. Far from being a bunch of leftovers or being a mere "companion album", 'Fears Trending' is a solid record. Give it a listen here: http://www.clashmusic.com/features/premiere-the-phantom-band-fears-trending



British indie legends The Charlatans have scored another Top 10 album with their brand new 'Modern Nature'. It's their twelfth studio album, and the first since the tragic death of drummer Jon Brookes in 2013. Mixing haunting melancholy with touches of funk and soul, the LP is a real grower, and possibly the finest thing they've done since 2001's 'Wonderland'. 

Featuring eleven new tracks, the album was produced by The Charlatans and Jim Spencer and mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Portishead). The album features a cacophony of contributors from their three temporary drummers - Pete Salisbury of The VerveStephen Morris of New Order and Gabriel Gurnsey of DFA's avant-disco group Factory Floor, to Kate Bushs’ backing singers Melanie Marshall and Sandra Marvin, strings by Sean O’ Hagan and brass courtesy of Dexys’ Big Jim Paterson. Q have already described the album as “ one the finest of their career.”

The live shows in March will be The Charlatans’ first full UK tour since 2010. Pete Salisbury (The Verve) who plays on much of the album will be drumming on the dates. A list of dates can be found HERE.






Stephen Jones is the genius behind Babybird, Death Of The Neighbourhood, Black Reindeer, Deluder, Trucker and various other musical projects. Since putting the Babybird moniker to rest in 2012, Jones has been releasing huge volumes of music via his Bandcamp page HERE. But over the past month the Babybird name has been reprised for a few albums of unreleased material from the archive.

After releasing the Black Reindeer album 'Shop Til Dead' in early January, Jones surprised fans with a Babybird LP entitled 'Roadkiller', featuring "tracks that were recorded in various studios and homes across the world. On cassette/CD/studio tape/mini disc/DAT and memory" and "made in in-between time as demos that time ran out on, or didn't fit the flavour of Ba
bybird albums." Listen to 'Roadkiller' HERE. A few days later a second volume of these archive tracks appeared under the title 'Roadtripper', which can be heard HERE. That same day 'Roadfiller' was also released as an "accompaniment" to 'Roadtripper', and features 'Screaming 4 Jesus', which can be heard below. 'Roadfiller' can be found HERE. February kicked off with the release of the fourth archive tracks album 'Road', which can be found HERE. Jones reveals that the tracks are "from cassettes recorded over 30 years and added to through those years. Recorded on standard C90 C60 and C45 cassettes, and when desperately and skint recorded over other people's cassettes. Most of the earlier recordings were made on Wella Hairdressing instruction C45s cassettes."




Needless to say, I am very excited by the upcoming arrival of the second solo album from Noel Gallagher, and my excitement has just increased after hearing the brand new single 'Ballad Of The Mighty I'. The song also features Smiths legend Johnny Marr. "He just arrived with two guitars and a bag of effects pedals" says Noel, "And I have to say, he’s unbelievable. He’s way up there, on another level to the rest of us. The result is a burst of energy that helped make 'Ballad Of The Mighty I' one of the best songs I've ever written."

The track is released on February 23rd, a week before the album 'Chasing Yesterday' arrives. The LP was produced by Noel himself: “I didn’t like it to be honest" said Noel regarding producing solo for the first time, "I’d taken it to my producer, Dave Sardy, who has worked with me for the last 10 years and for whatever reasons he couldn’t do it… I enjoyed the freedom with it but I didn’t enjoy managing the sessions. The end product is great but it was a pain in the arse,” he said. Noel described the album's sound as “very eclectic... You could take a pair of tracks and play them together and think, ‘fucking hell, he’s gone insane, what’s he done there’ but then you could take another pair of tracks and think ‘well it sounds like a rock ‘n’ roll album’” said Gallagher. “I don’t think it’s one kind of thing or another. But I think it’s good though. Don’t think Spandau Ballet, think Pink Floyd.”





Cumbrian four piece The Lucid Dream’s 2nd album is a self-titled release, which comes out on March 30. As well as this superb new single, the LP also features the previous singles ‘Moonstruck’ and ‘Unchained’, both released in 2014. Formed in Carlisle, Cumbria, in 2008, throughout 2010-2013 followed a string of sold-out 7”s, an EP and the debut album, ‘Songs Of Lies and Deceit’. These releases coincided with support slots/tours with Death In Vegas, Clinic, Spectrum, A Place To Bury Strangers, The Magic Band, The Aliens and Dead Skeletons, to name a few. Always a band with the ability to combine melody with experimentation and noise, it came as no surprise that earlier releases gained plaudits across the board.

New album ‘The Lucid Dream’ demonstrates the band covering new areas, as always is the ethos of band. ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘Cold Killer’ channel the influence of German geniuses Can and Neu!, through to the free-form jazz/noise freak-out that is ‘Darkest Day’/’Head Musik’. The success of ‘Moonstruck’ and ‘Unchained’ has already shown the ability to have appeal across the board, whilst ‘Unchained Dub’ (already a live favourite) expresses the love of King Tubby/Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, already noted by fans and critics alike that The Lucid Dream are the only band of their ilk touching across so many areas. ‘Morning Breeze’, throughout its 7 minutes displays feedback experiments in the vein of Sonic Youth, through to the spaced-out bliss demonstrated by Verve. The album closes with ‘You + I’, a nod to early 60s pop, meets Mazzy Star, meets Spiritualized circa ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’.






https://www.facebook.com/theluciddream
https://twitter.com/TheLucidDreamUK




Hypnotic choral sounds, vintage acid techno vibes and lots of odd, brilliantly indistinguishable multi-layered instrumental elements combine to excellent effect on this new offering from Glasgow trio Errors.

It's also the title track from their upcoming fourth album, which will be released on March 23 via Mogwai's Rock Action label.

Their previous 'Have Some Faith In Magic' (which you can read a review of HERE) was one of RW/FF's favorite albums of 2012, so this new one is something I will be anticipating eagerly.

In support of the LP, the band will be touring the UK in March and April. 














Using samples and clips from old public information films, the duo Public Service Broadcasting are releasing their second album in February. Following on from their 2013 debut 'Inform - Educate - Entertain', the LP will "tell the story of the American and Soviet space race from 1957 to 1972" and is preceded by their new single 'Gargarin'. The track is inspired by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, and is described as "A brassy, funk-heavy superhero theme song for the most famous man in the world at the time."

The vinyl version of the album comes with a reversible sleeve featuring a USA Sleeve on one side and a USSR on the other.





The new music selections continue with this superb and highly addictive slice of dancehall reggae from Horseman. Even though this was released last year in 2014 (and there are quite a few 2015 tracks waiting to be featured), I'm going to feature this now before it's "newness" expires too much... 

Following three decades of working with the creme de la creme of the reggae world, Winston Williams aka Horseman released his first LP in November 2014. 
As fearsome a drummer as he is an MC, Horseman has worked with musicians and producers Tippa Irie, Max Romeo, Gregory Isaacs, Sugar Minott, Jah Shaka, Mad Professor, Barrington Levy, Eeka Mouse and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with John Holt - to name but a few - most recently performing with Hollie Cook and Prince Fatty. It was while playing with renowned outfit The Ruff Cut Band in 2003 that he met producer and long term collaborator Mike 'Prince Fatty' Pelanconi. 'Dawn Of The Dread' was recorded at Studio Dub in Thailand before being mixed at Prince Fatty's Ironworks studio in Brighton. "Mike just asked, "you ever been to Thailand?" and we went. There were great vibes, we walked in and it all fell into place. We were looking to get that 80s digital sound and all that original equipment was just there waiting for us. It was fate".

'Dawn Of The Dread' features in RW/FF's Albums Of 2014 list, which you can find HERE.
And the brilliant 'Computer' is included on 2014: The Best Of, a two-part mixtape which can be heard HERE.







Almost three years after releasing one of RW/FF's favourite albums of recent years, Scottish four-piece Django Django are back with a new single called 'First Light', the first to be taken from their upcoming second LP. Blending a wealth of influences together to create something intriguing, arty, exciting and accessible, the new song bodes well for the forthcoming album which is due in the Spring at some point. Looking forward to it very much indeed.

You can read a review of their superb self titled album from 2012 HERE, and you can read a review of their set from the NME Awards Tour in 2013 at the Bristol Academy HERE. Go HERE to see a selection of photos taken from that show.





The word "legend" is often an overused one in many cases, however it is an entirely appropriate term to describe Michael Rother, one of the great pioneers of German music. Famed for his groundbreaking work with Neu! and Harmonia, Rother even served a short spell in Kraftwerk back in their early days, and now he lends his musical magic to a new generation with this magnificent remix of Boxed In's new single 'All Your Love Is Gone'. Boxed In is a hotly-tipped UK-based project led by Oli Bayston, and their recommended self-titled debut album was released a few weeks ago. The NME have hailed it as "an album that will enhance your life", while The Line Of Best Fit gave it a glowing review, stating that "Boxed In is an album that's hard to pin down, but it hits hard enough in places to get the party started and holds just enough back to make you want to return to it again and again."

This superb remix can be found on the flipside of the single release of 'All Your Love Is Gone', which came out on January 27.





Banging out a brutal mixture of krautrock and post-punk, the masked men that are Evil Blizzard make up one of the most unique groups to have emerged over the last few years. Teeth Of The Sea are also a fascinating outfit, whose brilliant third LP 'Master' was one of RW/FF's favourite albums of 2013. A combination of both was bound to produce something of excellence, and surely enough this TOTS remix of 'Sacrifice' is just that. It can be found on a split EP entitled 'Collisions 04', the latest in Rocket Recordings' 'Collisions' series. While one side of the 12" features the original version of 'Sacrifice' and this remix, the other contains four songs by Mamuthones. Vinyl copies of the EP have sold out, but it can still be purchased digitally on Bandcamp HERE.

In the words of the accompanying press release, this remix "beams the track through a prism of electronic horrorscore tension and adds chanted vocal mantas and demented ululations to suitably unsettling and portentous effect."




The Staves are a group who I first spotted a couple of years ago on the telly, doing backing vocals for Tom Jones as he played an intimate gig at a London Church. Enchanted by the blend of these three wonderful voices, I had to investigate further. Which led me to their 2012 album 'Dead and Born and Grown'. 'If I Was' will be their second full-length studio album, and is released on March 23. From it (and featuring a rather good video) is their new single 'Black And White', which can be downloaded immediately when you pre-order the album on iTunes or at the group's webstore. The trio are made up of the Staveley-Taylor sisters, Emily, Jessica and Camilla. 





The Cribs have announced details of their sixth studio album 'For All My Sisters'. It will be released on March 23 and was produced in New York by Ric Ocasek of The Cars. In a recent Facebook post the band said "I can’t believe it’s been nearly 3 years since Brazen Bull, but we have been working really hard behind the scenes, and we honestly think this is our best record so far. Easily... I know we always say that, but we’re all really excited about this one.” "I think this is the poppiest record since 'Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever'," Ryan Jarman recently told the NME. "When we did 'In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull', we used that as a chance to get the more abrasive songs out. With this one we fancied having that contrast of going back to where we concentrate on the melodies."

"There's always been some reason why [every record] has to be better than the last. The last record was the first one back as a three-piece [after Johnny Marr's exit]. There was all this gravity and it had to be better. This one, because it's the first one of the next 10 years, you feel that gravity again." The first preview of the album comes in the form of this fuzzy grower which can be heard below... The band play an eight date UK tour in February.






Here is another example of it never being too late to discover something brilliant, since this beauty was actually released at the end of last year but only brought to m attention over the last few days. Gulp is a duo consisting of Lindsay Leven and Super Furry Animals bassist Guto Pryce, who released their debut album 'Season Sun' last year in 2014. With Louder Than War declaring it "an agreeable blend of compelling melodies and subtle twists that ensure that Gulp have produced a debut that shows originality and huge potential", the album was also listed as one of RW/FF's albums of the year HERE. Taken from the recently released 'Game Love' EP, this version of 'The Way' has been remixed by Pryce's SFA bandmate Cian Ciarán.




Rewind: 1995

Before the RW/FF round-up took its long break, I was in the process of writing about my memories of the year 1996, having finished doing the same thing for 1995. You can read my Musical Memories From 1995 HERE. But ever since a Twitter page called @ThisIsMyJam 1995 launched, I have decided to revisit 1995 in more detail by listening to every song that entered the singles chart that year. 

90s nostalgists like myself remember a time when the singles charts were a world of diversity. This Is My Jam 95 tweets a link to the official Top 40 from 20 years ago, and each week everyone picks their favourite new entry. Their Twitter page can be found HERE. The first chart from January 1995 is HERE. This week in 1995 saw new chart entries from The Human League ('Tell Me When'), Siouxie And The Banshees, Megadeth, Thunder, Shawn Colvin and Runrig. It also saw the chart debut of Ini Kamoze's annoying but catchy 'Here Comes The Hotstepper', and the superb 'Crashin' In' by The Charlatans. However, my pick has to be that week's number 30, 'So Let Me Go Far' by the power pop trio Dodgy. The track can be found on their brilliant 'Homegrown' album, which was released the previous year in 1994. Dodgy split in 1999, and reformed almost a decade later. After releasing their acclaimed 2012 comeback album 'Stand Upright In A Cool Place', the band are currently working on their fifth studio LP, which is due for release at some point this year on the Cherry Red label.









The following week's chart can be found HERE and features some brilliant stuff. But proving that even the golden years of popular music can throw up some bad stuff, that week's fresh offerings included generic R-Kelly-esque RnB from the Whitehead Bros, some lame dance-pop from the Tyrrel Corporation, Carleen Anderson's bland 'Let It Last', and a dreadful, pointless cover of 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' by Nicki French. On the 'not good, not bad, not too bothered' list is Sounds Of Blackness's 'I'm Going All The Way', and in at number 9 were Guns N Roses with their take on 'Sympathy For The Devil', which I was aware of years before I even heard the original version. 

Much more agreeable were The Original's club hit 'I Luv U Baby', some rousing hard rock from The Almighty, a band who I've decided to familiarise myself with after enjoying 'Jonestown Mind'. Also impressing were 'Living In Danger' by Ace Of Base, one of my favourite pop groups ever and the third most successful Swedish act of all-time. N-Trance re-entered the chart with their classic 'Set You Free', which went in at #6. That song instantly evokes memories of running around in a large circle with lots of other kids during a school holidays activity club at a local sports centre. In at number 21 was Loveland featuring Rachel McFarlane's, with the soulful house gem 'I Need Somebody'. Then of course there was Portishead's magnificent 'Glory Box'. Such a hard choice between that and Ace Of Base, but I'm going to pick the week's number 23 entry, 'Change' by the Lightning Seeds, breezy carefree indie-pop at its best. This song was the second single to be released from their 1994 album 'Jollification'. Having not released anything new since 2009's 'Four Winds', I wonder if Ian Broudie will return with another album anytime soon?






While Rednex's 'Cotton Eye Joe' remained at the top of the chart for January 21, the number 38 entry was a reasonably respectable Snoop Dogg pastiche by rapper Paris entitled 'Guerilla Funk'. At number 31, Jim Carrey singing 'The Mask' theme tune 'Cuban Pete' is a good bit of fun, while that week's number 34 comes from Donna Allen. Unfortunately 'Real' is not on Spotify, and Sony have blocked it from YouTube so I can't tell you whether it's any good or not. Van Halen's poor 'Don't Tell Me' took the number 27 position, while TLC continued to peddle more of their dull RnB as 'Creep' went in at 22. At number 24, 'Saved' by Mr Roy was a simple dance remix of 'Soul Limbo' by Booker T And The MGs, better known as the theme tune to the cricket. Deuce were a lame pop act who entered the chart at 21 with 'Call It Love', while 'Hoochie Booty' by boyband Ultimate Kaos was equally horrific. The week's highest new entry came from the ever-mundane R.Kelly, whose 'Bump N Grind' still bumps and grinds my gears 20 years on. However, it's good to see Barry White going in at number 20 with the suitably smooth 'Practice What You Preach'.

At 37 was the re-release of New Order's excellent '1963', originally a B-side from 1987, this time remixed by Arthur Baker for a single release. At 26, Scarlet were a duo who scored a hit with 'Independent Love Song', which until a few minutes ago, I had not heard in years. Pop balladry at its very best. Massive Attack's sublime 'Protection' was the week's second highest new entry, at number 14. But I can only choose ONE song as my favourite, and Massive Attack would have won if it wasn't for the song at number 16... The bouncy excitement and carefree attitude of Britpop can be heard all over Sleeper's magnificent 'Inbetweener', which I'm definitely going to have to choose as my 'jam' of the week. The song was taken from their debut album 'Smart', while the video parodied the grocery store-set ITV game show Supermarket Sweep and featured the programme's presenter Dale Winton. Formed in 1993, the band had eight UK Top 40 hit singles and three UK Top 10 albums before splitting in 1998. Singer Louise Wener is now a successful novelist. 'Inbetweener' was featured on the brilliant 'True Brit' compilation that I purchased in summer '96, but the wonderful 'What Do I Do Now' was the first thing of theirs that I heard, thanks to it being included on one of the tapes that Smash Hits used to give away free with the magazine. Yes, I was STILL buying Smash Hits in 1996, but immediately ceased reading it in 1997 after they gave Radiohead's incredible 'Paranoid Android' a bad review, while their Single Of The Week was Hanson's 'MmmBop'.




The latest chart is from January 28 1995. In the 'bad' pile, we have Queensryche's eastern-flavoured rock number 'I Am I' at 40. At 39, E.V.E's 'Good Life' was a slinky but disposable RnB number that was backed with a rather good Dancing Divaz remix which slighly brought to mind the Inner City house classic of the same name, while at 35, Vanessa Mae's '' features some skillful musicianship but some weak production, As well as Jimmy Somerville's predictably awful 'Heartbeat' at 28, Let Loose's number 13 entry 'One Night Stand' dealt in relentless mediocrity, and Jodeci's number 20 'Cry For You' sounds like one long outro and comes littered with lots of intolerable vocal acrobatics.

Aside from those, there were plenty of good things elsewhere in the Top 40... DJ Scott's happy hardcore-flavoured 'Do You Wanna Party?' was at 36, Tricky's magnificent 'Overcome' at 34, and 'If Life Is Like A Lovebank, I Want An Overdraft' by The Wildhearts and its Pogues-esque B side 'Geordie In Wonderland' sat at number 31. Soundgraden provided some impressive grunge rock with the number 24 'Fell On Black Days', and at number 11, MC Sar And The Real McCoy's 'Run Away' was very of its time: a lively helping of Euro dance complete with questionable rapping that I have something of a soft spot for. 'She's A River' may not have been the best song Simple Minds ever released, but it still sounds pretty good 20 years after it earned them a number 9 hit. I can remember buying t on cassette from WH Smith in Swindon, at the same time I finally bought myself a proper copy of 'Parklife'. I can't remember how much I paid for it, but it definitely came from the reduced shelf, so I'm guessing it was about 29p. Green Day's pop-punk classic 'Basket Case' was the week's highest new entry at number 7, and despite having heard it a million times, it still sounds great. A re-release of Bob Seger's 1978 classic 'We've Got Tonight' provides my favourite new entry at 32, but since it was in fact from 1978 and not 1995 I will have to go with the song sitting at number 23. 'Boxers' was released to promote Morrissey's tour of the same name, and wasn't featured on 1994's 'Vauxhall And I' or the follow-up 'Southpaw Grammar', but was later included on the 'World Of Morrissey' compilation.


There will be more over the coming weeks. I promise not to leave you for so long this time, Or at least I don't intend to.

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