Sunday, 14 October 2018

Track Of The Day: Richard Ashcroft - That's When I Feel It

People will be pleased to know that Richard Ashcroft's new album Natural Rebel is a long overdue return to form. Released later this week on October 19, I reviewed it for XS Noize, and you can read more about it HERE. The ex Verve frontman's latest offering finds him moving back towards the style of his earlier solo work, bolstered by songwriting that takes cues from sources unexplored by Ashcroft in the past.

That’s When I Feel It thrives on positive vibes, his voice sounding more vital than it has in years, with its talk of “music in motion, love and devotion” summing up the outlook nicely. Like much of Natural Rebel, its an example of back to basics magic, not unlike Urban Hymns with an added twist of George Harrison and Tom Petty.


Rewind: Levellers - Bozos

This rather unusual techno-punk single by the Levellers was released 20 years ago this week in October 1998. 'Bozos' was recorded for the Brighton folk-rock outfit's best of compilation One Way Of Life, and reached number 44 in the UK singles chart.

After scoring a number of big selling albums and hit singles in the 90s, as well as becoming legends on the festival circuit, the Levellers had released their Mouth To Mouth LP the previous year in 1997. The album went to number 5 in the UK charts and spawned another three Top 40 singles, with 'Too Real' reaching number 46. However, the group's mainstream success had peaked, and by 1998 they found themselves at a crossroads. A press release detailing the 2014 Levellers movie 'A Curious Life' refers to the band disappearing "in a train wreck of drink, drugs and creative drought" at this point, yet to the outside world things seemed to be so positive at the time.

But maybe this explains why the band were relatively quiet during 1998 and 1999. China Records wanted them to release a Best Of album in order to keep the momentum going, so they grudgingly agreed. Two new songs were recorded for the package, one of them being the superb 'Shadow On The Sun', another darkly infectious folk-rock treasure that bizarrely never got a release as a single. They also opted to cover an obscure 1988 track by Flik Spatula, another band who were signed to Hag! Records around the same period. Adapted from the original 'We're All Bozos On This Bus', I can recall seeing adverts in the music press for the single, and bought it from HMV in Bath without even hearing the song once in advance due a complete lack of radio support. A hectic blast of punk rock peppered with drum n bass beats, the band's new change in direction didn't please hardcore fans, and 'Bozos' went unheard by the mainstream pubic. Although I love it, it does stick out like a sore thumb on the Greatest Hits.


Read an interview with frontman Mark Chadwick from a few years ago HERE, where he remembers the history of the group. Chadwick is currently playing a number of acoustic solo shows in the UK, including a date in Trowbridge this Friday (October 19).


Saturday, 13 October 2018

Track Of The Day: Muse - Pressure

What do you get if you cross riffs "borrowed" from The White Stripes with a hint of Duran Duran and a touch of opera? Something very much like 'Pressure', an infectious new track from Muse's upcoming eighth album Simulation Theory. Described as having a theme centering on "fantasy becoming real", the LP is out on November 9.


Rewind: R.E.M. - Daysleeper

This magnificent moment from R.E.M. was released 20 years ago this week in October 1998, reaching number 6 in the UK singles chart. Charming pastoral flavours guide the song's gorgeous melody through spells of introspection and joy. One of their best and most underrated singles. From their eleventh album 'Up'.

Michael Stipe explained: "I was in New York, putting together a book of haikus that I worked on with several dear friends of mine over the course of a year, and I was walking down the steps of this building. It was probably four o'clock in the afternoon, and I come to a door—it's apartment 3-D or something—and there's a sign on it that says "Daysleeper," and I walked a lot more carefully, quietly down the steps, thinking about that poor person who's trying to sleep, and me and my big old boots interrupting her sleep. So I wrote this song about a daysleeper that's working an 11–7 shift and how furious the balance is between the life that you live and the work that you have to do in order to support the life that you live."


The song "The Lifting" from R.E.M.'s 2001 album Reveal is a prequel to "Daysleeper" and features the same character.


Friday, 12 October 2018

ALBUM: The KVB - Only Now Forever (2018)

Does psychedelic synthpop sound appealing to you? If so then try out 'Only Now Forever', the new album from The KVB, which is released today on the brilliant Invada Records. 

The London duo's new LP features recent Track Of The Day 'Above Us', the sound of Jesus And Mary Chain atmospherics mixing with flavours of Mute Records. Other highlights include the lovely single 'On My Skin' and the glowing magnificence of 'Into Life'.

Listen to the album in full below via Bandcamp. If you appreciate the music, we encourage you to support the artists by buying their music digitally or physically online or from your local record shop.


ALBUM: Placebo - Without You I'm Nothing (1998)

20 years ago today on 12 October 1998, Placebo released their second album Without You I'm Nothing. A more extreme record than their self titled debut, where dark, sombre ballads mixed with filthy, and heavy guitar sounds. The album spawned the classic singles 'Pure Morning', 'You Don't Care About Us', 'Every You Every Me', and the original version of the title track, you which was later re-recorded as a duet with the godlike David Bowie.

The band's most recent album was 2013's 'Loud Like Love'.

Listen to the album in full below via YouTube. If you appreciate the music, we encourage you to support the artists by buying their music digitally or physically online or from your local record shop.


Track Of The Day: Basement Revolver - Baby

Beautifully dark, atmospheric guitars and swooning vocals impress on this endearing track from Canadian outfit Basement Revolver. It comes from their debut album 'Heavy Eyes'. The band are currently touring the UK and will be playing a free gig at Rough Trade in Bristol tomorrow (Oct 13)


Rewind: Hurricane #1 - Rising Sign

This heavy, awe inspiring track was released 20 years ago today on 12 October 1998, reaching number 47 in the UK singles chart. Hurricane #1 were formed by guitarist Andy Bell after the split of Shoegaze legends Ride, and produced a more Oasis-like rock n roll sound. With its wailing atmospheric guitars and waves of feedback, the swaggering epic 'Rising Sign' was far more reminiscent of Bell's former band. 

Their self titled debut was released on Creation Records in 1997, spawning a number of Top 40 singles. An alternative version of this (remixed by Kevin Shields) can be found on their second album Only The Strongest Will Survive. Hurricane #1 split afterwards, when Bell became a member of Oasis. With a reformed Ride back on the scene, Hurricane #1 has also been reactivated by frontman Alex Lowe. Their fifth album is due next year and the band will be supporting Embrace on their UK tour. 

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Track Of The Day: The Living End - Otherside

From Australian punk trio The Living End's eighth album Wunderbar. The standout 'Otherside' is another glorious moment that revels in the sound of the open road, melodically not unlike a collision between The Buggles' 'Video Killed The Radio Star' and Marc Cohn's 'Walking In Memphis', along with hints of that other drivetime rock staple 'Boys Of Summer'. 

From a personal point of view, one of music's great mysteries is why The Living End have never become that well-known over here in the UK. After hearing them two decades ago, I have been a fan and champion of their music ever since. Another mystery is how this band keep on delivering the goods over 20 years after their debut. Every time I hear of a new Living End album being released, I always think that it couldn't beat the previous ones and that this group surely have to run out of steam at some point. But they never have. And that quality is continued on the diverse 'Wunderbar'. Read the full album review HERE.


Rewind: The Boo Radleys - Free Huey

This fired-up track by The Boo Radleys was released 20 years ago in October 1998. Reaching number 54 in the UK charts, this was to be the Liverpool band's final single. Rampant electronics do battle with savage guitars and a hectic, full-throated vocal on this song that should've got a lot higher in the charts.

When I first heard this on (Radio 1 show) The Evening Session in 1998, I was thrilled by it and surprised by the band's new sound, which couldn't have been further from what I would've expected from them at the time. Up until then I was only aware of their unavoidable 1995 summer smash hit 'Wake Up Boo'. Before that, they were acclaimed in alternative scene circles for their psychedelic shoegaze sounds after forming in the late 80s. The unstoppable wave of Britpop coincided with the release of the release of the joyous 'Wake Up Boo', which became a radio staple and stayed in the charts for ages. With its bright, bouncy optimism, fanfare horns and rise and shine lyrics, their big pop hit overshadowed everything the band followed it with. 

The big hit and it's accompanying album were followed the next year with the loud, messy, weird 'C'mon Kids', seen my many as a deliberate attempt to distance themselves from the lingering memory of 'Wake Up Boo'. The album sold poorly, while the most successful single from it could only just about scrape into the Top 20. "We didn't want to scare away the hit-kids, we wanted to take them with us to somewhere that we'd not been before" claims singer Sice (real name Simon Rowbottom). "All we wanted to do was try something new - to keep ourselves fresh and interested". Learning a lesson in how a huge hit single can set you back artistically, they soon found themselves in a position where some of the indie scene saw them as sell-outs who had lost their edge. Meanwhile, the mainstream pop audience couldn't care less about their other less commercial material. It's correct to say that their audience had become limited.

Finding themselves "back on the indie scrapheap" while labelmates Oasis were ruling the world, the band seemed to resign themselves to the fact that it was all downhill from there. With songwriter Martin Carr remembering the period as an uninspired time, and Sice quoting that they had "lost interest once a goal had been achieved", The Boo Radleys were at a low ebb when they recorded 'Kingsize", and their hearts weren't in it anymore. 



Incredibly, and despite all this, it resulted in what many including myself regard as their finest album, one of the most underrated records of the decade, and something that stands as one of the most sad, emotional and tune-packed farewells in musical history. With a more simplified songwriting approach, orchestral indie rock brilliance is imbued with a wondrous sense of introspection and resignation that is hugely endearing. Upon hearing it for the first time, I thought that once more singles were released from Kingsize, they would surely rise well above their perceived status as "one hit wonders". No further singles were released, and after appearing quietly on the shelves on 19 October 1998, the album flopped at number 62 in the charts. The group announced their split a few months later.

A complete lack of support from the industry sank one of the most magnificent records of the 90s. Creation boss Alan McGee allegedly reckoned that the album had no appeal, asking the band "who exactly is going to buy this?" After being ordered to go back to the studio and record two singles to salvage the LP with, the band came back with the terrific 'Free Huey', which found civil rights era-funk flavours welded to supercharged breakbeats and riotous guitars. Back in 1998, Carr said "When you come back after a year-and-a-half you don't want to knock on the door all apologetic saying, 'Can we come back to the party please?' You want to barge in shouting, 'Where's the keg?" The track was reportedly inspired by Norman Cook's remix of Wildchild's 'Renegade Master', a single released earlier that year.

A complete red herring that proved to be completely at odds with the rest of the LP, there's an argument that such a contrasting track has a perfect place on the album to give the overall picture a brief burst of energy. A question to raise is why were they singing about activist and Black Panther co-founder Huey Newton in 1998? Did they feel like prisoners in the music industry? Was it a veiled stab at Creation Records? Were they annoyed with the label's lack of support and their unwillingness to promote their music properly? "we're told to run towards the future while standing on our feet, and be content with the scraps that they throw us after promising a feast"

While I fully understand (and agree with) criticisms that 'Free Huey''s main lyrical hook is repeated far more times than necessary, this single still sounds utterly exhilarating 20 years later. Unknown by many, unloved by some, but one of my favourite singles of 1998.

Next week I will be revisiting the stunning 'Kingsize' in full and (if all goes well) could possibly also be talking to Martin Carr about his memories of the album.


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Track Of The Day: She Makes War - London Bites

Gritty, dark and melodic stuff, and one of the best moments from the new She Makes War album 'Brace For Impact', which is at number 47 in the midweek charts. It marks a long-overdue chart debut for the brilliant Bristol-based multi instrumentalist Laura Kidd, who has scored a victory for DIY music with this alluring and accomplished LP. 


This and the other singles are perhaps curveballs, for there is a lot of light, calm and melody as well as the heavier elements. Drawing on personal experiences, the state of the world and society as well as a fine range of  well-picked influences, 'Brace For Impact' continues Laura Kidd's run of impressive self-released albums. Read the album review HERE.


Rewind: Fatboy Slim - Gangster Trippin'

Repetitive yet infectious, this funky helping of loopy big beat from Fatboy Slim was released 20 years ago this week in October 1998. It reached number 3 in the UK singles chart and was taken from Norman Cook's second Fatboy Slim album, the smash hit party classic 'You've Come A Long Way Baby'. The song contains samples from "Entropy" by DJ Shadow, "Word Play" and "The Turntablist Anthem" by the X-Ecutioners, "Beatbox Wash" by the Dust Junkys and "You Did It" by Ann Robinson.


Tuesday, 9 October 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: She Makes War - Brace For Impact

This week saw the release of the new She Makes War album 'Brace For Impact', which is at number 47 in the midweek charts. It marks a long-overdue chart debut for the brilliant Bristol-based multi instrumentalist Laura Kidd, who has scored a victory for DIY music with this appealing and accomplished LP.

The album is available to listen to via Bandcamp and YouTube below. 

If you enjoy any of the songs here, we encourage you to support the artists by purchasing their music from your local record shop, or through online retailers. This album can also be purchased directly from Bandcamp along with the other She Makes War releases.

It kicks off superbly with the stormy single 'Devastate Me', where a fiery no-nonsense attitude matches up with a monster chorus and the sort of heaving riffage that brings to mind The Breeders, Garbage and other alt rock heroes. Then there's the excellent 'London Bites', gritty, dark and melodic stuff, and one of the best moments here. The singles are perhaps curveballs, for there is a lot of light, calm and melody as well as the heavier elements. The more introspective likes of 'Strong Enough' contrast nicely with songs like the explosive 'Undone', which rages at loss and the injustices of life, and the melancholic Britpop track 'Then The Quiet Came'. Kidd can switch from marvellous electronics on the dreamy, Dubstar-like 'Fortify' to dirty grunge riffage on 'Weary Bird' with ease, while alt-rock with delicate shades of The Sundays develop into something heavier on 'Let Me Down'. With its sweet ukelele, 60s pop vibes, the melodic 'Dear Heart' is almost reminiscent of underrated late 90s indie outfit Theaudience, which certainly isn't a bad thing in my book. Elsewhere, the brooding, angular, atmospherics on 'Love This Body' break into a lively chorus, and the intense, emotional 'Hold On' has 90s indie flavours all over the solo. The sparse, orchestral closer 'Miles Away' is another highlight, bringing to mind the masterful arrangements of the Eels in places.

Drawing on personal experiences, the state of the world and society as well as a fine range of  well-picked influences, 'Brace For Impact' continues Laura Kidd's run of impressive self-released albums. I'll give it a strong 7.8/10



Monday, 8 October 2018

Track Of The Day: Estrons - Lilac

We've waited years for a truly life changing new band. Well, here they are. Estrons have arrived. The amazing Welsh four piece released their long awaited debut album this week, and this is one that you cannot miss out on. Read the full 10/10 review of 'You Say I'm Too Much, I Say You're Not Enough' HERE. The band became hotly-tipped following three years of superb EP tracks and high energy gigs. Now, they have just released the debut album of 2018. A fierce, captivating, and empowering record from a band whose vitalising energy is thrillingly infectious.

The group is fronted by the outstanding talent of Tali Källström, a strong, intelligent female role model who doesn't need permission for anything, along with Rhodri Daniels, who brings savage guitars and intricate notes to the mix. The musical differences between the two as well as their self-confessed love/hate relationship adds fuel to the fire, making for collision of two worlds, and an exhilarating sound that hits even harder thanks to their razor sharp rhythm section.

Not a second is wasted right from the opening rumble of 'Lilac', a boundless joyride of an opener revelling in ferocity, chaos, and rousing hooks that conceal the darkness behind the lyrics. “It’s not all bleak bleak bleak,” says Tali. “That’s not what I’m trying to achieve with the album, I don’t want people to feel just terrible. I want to empower people, and I want to get some laughter.”

Developing their sound over the three years together before recording their first album has paid off, resulting in an impressively accomplished debut. Packed full of raw, passionate music that excites the mind and arouses the soul, 'You Say I'm Too Much, I Say You're Not Enough' brings a gut feeling like no other new band have delivered for years. 2018 is the time for Estrons. 


Rewind: Sparklehorse - Sick Of Goodbyes

A fantastic moment from Sparklehorse's Good Morning Spider album. This song reached number 57 in the UK charts when it was released as a single 20 years ago back in October 1998. Led by American singer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Linkous, Sparklehorse was active from 1995 until Linkous' tragic suicide in 2010. This would be his final, and highest charting entry in the UK singles charts.


Sunday, 7 October 2018

Track Of The Day: Thom Yorke - Has Ended

More amazing sounds from Radiohead legend Thom Yorke's upcoming soundtrack for horror movei Suspiria. Psychedelic trip hop flavours flow throughout the excellent 'Has Ended', which bodes well for the LP due out Oct. 26 on XL Recordings. The original 1977 horror "Suspiria" was directed by Dario Argento, with a score composed by the Italian rock band Goblin. The 2018 remake also takes place in the 1970s, and is released on Nov. 2. 

Yorke talked about composing the film's music: “It was an odd process from the beginning. When (director) Luca [Guadagnino] first came to see me, with the producers and [editor] Walter [Fasano], I just thought they were mad, because I’ve never done a soundtrack before. And ‘Suspiria’ is one of those legendary soundtracks. It took a few months to even contemplate the idea. It was one of those moments in your life where you kind want to run away, but you know you'll regret it if you do."

"I watched the original film several times, and I loved it because it was of that time, an incredibly intense soundtrack. Obviously, Goblin and Dario [Argento] worked incredibly closely when they did it together. But it was of its time and there was no way I could reference it in any way. There was no point, other than what I found interesting was they used repetition of motifs, again and again and again. Part of your mind is saying, ‘Please, I don’t want to hear this anymore.' That was really great. That's sort of hooked me into the whole process."

Yorke added, "There’s a way of repeating in music that can hypnotize. I kept thinking to myself that it’s a form of making spells. So when I was working in my studio, I was making spells. I know it sounds really stupid, but that’s how I was thinking about it. It was a sort of freedom I’ve not had before. I’m not working in the format of song arrangement. I’m just exploring ... It was a really cool way to totally immerse myself in an area that I normally wouldn't go, with full permission."



Rewind: Rialto - Summer's Over

Released 20 years ago in October 1998, reaching number 60 in the UK singles chart. A lovely bit of late 90s indie from Rialto, with shades of Bowie, Suede and Oasis welded to drum loops and a rousing touch of melancholy. The song was taken from the band's self-titled debut album. The group were formed from the ashes of early Britpop frontrunners Kinky Machine, who disbanded in the mid 90s. Signed at a time when every label wanted an indie band on the roster, the hotly-tipped Rialto scored a few Top 40 hits but were unlucky enough to be dropped by their label EastWest not once but twice. They signed to another label and released a second album 'Night On Earth' in 2002 before splitting. Frontman Louis Eliot launched a solo career afterwards.


Saturday, 6 October 2018

Track Of The Day: The Chemical Brothers - Free Yourself

The brand new track from dance legends The Chemical Brothers buzzes with an awesome energy. Evidently back on mind blowing form, 'Free Yourself' is the first taste of their upcoming ninth album, which is due early next year in 2019. With Jon Hopkins and Daniel Avery releasing two of the year's best albums, as well as Orbital, The Prodigy and The Orb currently dazzling with astonishing new sounds, electronic music is currently enjoying something of a new golden era. The return of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons takes it up another notch.


Rewind: Garbage - Special

This glorious single from Garbage was released 20 years ago this week back in September 1998, and reached number 15 in the UK charts. The song was taken from their multi-million selling second LP 'Version 2.0'. Containing an "interpretation" of 'Talk Of The Town' by The Pretenders, the song's lyrics concerned a friendship Shirley Manson had moved on from after her friend had let her down: "Ultimately it's about those feelings of betrayal you have for people when you set your sights too high and expect too much and how that can lead to disappointment in the end."


Friday, 5 October 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Estrons - You Say I'm Too Much, I Say You're Not Enough (2018)

The amazing Welsh four piece Estrons release their long awaited debut album today (October 5), and this is one that you cannot miss out on. 'You Say I'm Too Much, I Say You're Not Enough' is available to listen to via YouTube below. 

If you enjoy any of the songs here, we encourage you to support the artists by purchasing their music from your local record shop, or through online retailers.


"Estrons" is a Welsh word that roughly translates as "misfits" or "outsiders", and the moniker chosen by a Welsh outfit who became hotly-tipped following three years of superb EP tracks and high energy gigs. Now, they have just released the debut album of 2018. A fierce, captivating, and empowering record from a band whose vitalising energy is thrillingly infectious.

The group is fronted by the outstanding talent of Tali Källström, a strong, intelligent female role model who doesn't need permission for anything, along with Rhodri Daniels, who brings savage guitars and intricate notes to the mix. The musical differences between the two as well as their self-confessed love/hate relationship adds fuel to the fire, making for collision of two worlds, and an exhilarating sound that hits even harder thanks to their razor sharp rhythm section, comprised of Steffan Pringle and Toby BangsOne of the keys to their brilliance is their total defiance of boxes and stereotypes: some have described their songs as alt-rock, post-punk, garage rock and even pop-punk, but Estrons bash out an explosively dynamic sound that is very much their own. “I didn’t want to be another rock band that looked and sounded like something else that had existed before,” Källström told the NME. “These bands must be lying when they say, ‘We all just met and it was all fine and we liked the same music and now we write this.’" There certainly aren't many groups who could remind you of Savages one minute, and Rihanna the next.

While many indie rock bands dabble with production methods and electronics to mirror their diverse influences, Estrons sonic power is rooted firmly in raw, organic rock noise but the songwriting and melodies take cues from many unexpected and contrasting styles. Their disregard for sticking to a generic formula fits nicely with their lyrics that strongly encourage individuality and strength, while also dealing some below the belt blows to society's shallow standards.

Not a second is wasted right from the opening rumble of 'Lilac', a boundless joyride of an opener revelling in ferocity, chaos, and rousing hooks that conceal the darkness behind the lyrics. “It’s not all bleak bleak bleak,” says Tali. “That’s not what I’m trying to achieve with the album, I don’t want people to feel just terrible. I want to empower people, and I want to get some laughter.” A perfect trio of high energy belters continues with the terrific 'Killing Your Love', hammering into the concsience with its angular rhythms, dynamite riffage and amped up middle section where they kick into furious overdrive with full impact. Mind blowing and utterly savage. "I originally wrote it about a specific person who I felt was a love addict, but then after I wrote it, I realised we’re all terrified of being alone.” Best listened to at maximum volume, as is the hyperactive, rip roaring 'Make A Man', a strong statement of dominant, commanding female sexuality which almost brings to mind a punk rock Missy Elliott. 

There's startling confidence, and there's vulnerability too. Showing they can step into more delicate territory with complete ease, the beautiful sadness of 'Strangers' is a heartfelt moment that resonates with a wonderful sincerity, while the highly-charged 'Body' is one of those jaw-dropping songs that makes you stop whatever you're doing, as its snarling bass and brutal snares kick in along with a menacing hiss of creeping feedback. Källström grabs you by the balls with one of many astonishing vocal performances, switching from brooding seduction to full-throated rage on its explosive chorus. Lyrically it doesn't fuck about either, dealing a blow to the shallow, image-obsessed mentality of mainstream culture and crushing it with a mighty sense of self belief. Or as Tali recently commented: “Resist the paradigms of our digital world, that demands a status of sanitised and pristine physical attractiveness, regardless of truth or fact. Choose not to follow. Search for truth in yourself.” Bringing together an inspired near-amalgamation of Destiny's Child and Nirvana, it's a fine example of how hugely contrasting elements collide within the Estrons sound to create something special and utterly thrilling.

Aggression and intelligence are all in plentiful supply throughout the record, which begins its second half with the fat riffage, slamming rhythm and filthy Rage Against The Machine-style bass of 'Jade'. Jagged guitars play alongside the captivating melody which sweetly wraps itself around the charming verses of 'Cameras' before leaping into a stunning chorus, where that phenomenal voice soars with maximum emotion that resonates terrifically. Along with its sky high solo, this is truly awe-inspiring stuff, and a life-affirming expression of unconditional love. “I went through many court cases to simply be able to be a single mother and a touring musician,” says Källström. “I was constantly watched. I had social services called on me, I had police turn up to tours.” Often, it is troubled souls who create the most brilliant art. "I went through a really, really, really difficult two years where lots of bad stuff happened, and a lot of the lyrics were inspired by that" Tali told Dork.com HERE. "A lot of the songs come from deep, dark places and powerful moments... Without our music, I don't know what I'd be doing. It saved me from myself. I went through a tough time, and I've felt such dark things but what I'll do is pick up a pen, and start writing. It's definitely a therapy. It's great being able to get it out. Without it, I don't know what I would have done."

'Jesus' again exhibits versatility and striking dynamics, alternating between a slinky foot tapper and a fist-in-the-air alt-rock monster, while 'Alien''s laid back, static cool is countered with explosive outbursts that keep up the energy and intensity, leading into an inspired change of pace towards the end and going off on another hugely enjoyable rampage. Ending as it began with a thrilling bang, the raucous 'Drop' is a fierce blast of high octane madness that sets the pulse racing off the scale and leaves you wanting more of this raw, life-affirming brilliance. “People get made to feel ashamed for feeling angry,” says Tali. “You try so hard to kill it with love and be positive, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Sometimes you wanna be angry.” Fast, loud, adrenaline-fuelled noise is balanced perfectly with genuine, unbridled human emotion and vulnerability to evoke strength, energy and vitality across this awesome half hour.

Developing their sound over the three years together before recording their first album has paid off, resulting in an impressively accomplished debut. Packed full of raw, passionate music that excites the mind and arouses the soul, 'You Say I'm Too Much, I Say You're Not Enough' brings a gut feeling like no other new band have delivered for years. 2018 is the time for Estrons. 10/10




ALBUM: Ash - Nu-Clear Sounds (1998)

20 years ago today on 5 October 1998, Northern Irish indie punk combo Ash released their second full length album Nu-Clear Sounds. It's available to listen to in full via YouTube below. 

If you enjoy what you hear, we encourage you to support the artists by purchasing their music from your local record shop, or through online retailers.

After the teenage trio rose to fame during the Britpop years with their energetic pop punk, they recruited additional guitarist Charlotte Hatherley in 1997 and became a four piece. They returned in 1998 with their second album Nu Clear Sounds, a darker, heavier more melancholic record. Something they had in common with many other indie groups at the time. 'Jesus Says' was the album's first single.


Following from the release of this year's Islands album, Ash will be touring the UK in October.


Track Of The Day: The Lucid Dream - Alone In Fear

The Lucid Dream's new track is astonishing. A slamming psychedelic techno punk epic that paces menacingly with rampant beats, harsh electronic tones, violent guitars and a sound that sometimes recalls Primal Scream and Underworld stuck together with strange cosmic glue. 'Alone In Fear' can be found on the band's upcoming fourth album 'Actualisation', which is out on Oct 18. The new LP has been described as influenced by Acid House, Dub and Kosmische.


Rewind: The Cardigans - My Favourite Game

This terrific single from The Cardigans was released 20 years ago today on 5 October 1998. It reached number 14 in the UK charts and was taken from the Swedish band's fourth album Gran Turismo. Following the success of their sugary pop hit 'Lovesick', the group wanted to move in a darker, heavier direction. The thrilling 'My Favourite Game' was just that. The accompanying music video was directed by Jonas Åkerlund and features singer Nina Persson joydriving on a desert road. It was filmed over a three-day shoot in the Mojave Desert near Barstow, California, at a reported cost of £220,000. It caused controversy due to its imagery of car crashes and reckless driving, and resulted in various different versions of the video being cut in order to make it suitable for television.



Monday, 1 October 2018

Track Of The Day: Kelly Moran - Helix

Long Island-based composer, producer, keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Kelly Moran has signed to Warp Records. The wondrous 'Helix' is taken from the forthcoming new album ‘Ultraviolet’ out 2 November. According to the label, the record "plays to a wider, more arresting array of stylistic influences: dazzling inflections of jazz and dream pop, neoclassical and black metal, darkness and light, encapsulated in a single, mystifying LP." 



Rewind: Cypress Hill - Tequila Sunrise


Another track from 20 years ago. Latin flavoured hip hop excellence from the L.A. group's fourth album Cypress Hill IV. Cypress Hill are the first Latino American hip hop recording group to have platinum and multi-platinum albums, selling over 20 million albums worldwide. Their ninth studio album Elephants On Acid was released on 28 September 2018.



Sunday, 30 September 2018

The Best Of September 2018 PLAYLIST + ROUND-UP

Welcome to the September 2018 edition of our monthly new music playlist, which is available to listen to and watch via YouTube. 

If you enjoy any of the songs featured here, we encourage you to support the artists by purchasing their music from your local record shop, or through online retailers.


Stream the playlist below and read a bit about each individual track further down the page. This edition features essential new music from Paul Weller, Estrons, Suede, Orbital, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Coral, Muse, The Prodigy, Parquet Courts, Slaves, The Living End, Thom Yorke, Low, She Makes War, Django Django, Gorillaz, Paul McCartney, The Orb, Disclosure, Brix And The Extricated, Idles, The Smashing Pumpkins, Jon Hopkins, White Lies, Kelly Moran, and Chase And Status.





Paul Weller - The Soul Searchers
This month saw the release of another collection of songs from the legendary Paul Weller. Already hugely critically acclaimed, 'True Meanings' opens with this wondrous acoustic tone-setter, a collaboration between Weller and Connor O’Brien of Villagers, who provided the lyrics. Rod Argent of The Zombies guests on Hammond organ. True Meanings is a majestic, varied yet focused record gleaming with mysterious, graceful beauty, every track reflecting a special warmth. Quite simply the best living songwriter on earth. 

Having just won the award for Songwriter Of The Year at the GQ Awards, and played a stunning set at the Bristol Downs Festival earlier this month (reviewed in depth HERE), the British icon is on a roll. His 14th solo album (and 26th overall) is described as "record unlike any he has ever made before, characterised by grandiose-yet-delicate, lush orchestration: an aesthetic to which Paul’s better-than-ever voice, singing some of his most nakedly honest words, is perfectly suited. It is not “a departure”, in the sense that soul bearing, melancholic songs have always been an important part of what he does: from English Rose, to Brand New Start, right up to The Ballad Of Jimmy McCabe from last year’s Jawbone soundtrack. But never, ever before has he allowed himself an entire album to exhibit this side of his song-writing, or presented them quite like this.

The album was recorded in a 3 week period at Paul’s Black Barn Studio, and produced largely by Weller. It was engineered and recorded by Charles Rees and mixed by Jan Stan Kybert. It also features contributions from folk legends Martin Carthy and Danny Thompson, Conor O'Brien, Noel Gallagher and Lucy Rose. 






Echo And The Bunnymen - The Somnambulist
Ian McCulloch clearly knows what he's good at. So he gives us more of it on this superb new track. It's from Echo And The Bunnymen's new orchestral album 'The Stars, The Ocean and The Moon', which combines new versions of some of the band's classic tracks with a couple of new tracks. The LP is out October 5.





Estrons - Body

Guitar music never died. It just went out of fashion for a while, and has recently been enjoying an exciting resurgence lately. That buzz has returned and there is magic in the air again. One reason is the many legendary acts from the 90s reaching a second peak, another is the amount of amazing new bands coming through. The current crop of British groups is the best we've had since the late 90s. One of them is the Welsh trio Estrons, who have just released an excellent new track called 'Bodies'.

A thrilling, hard-hitting monster of a song, railing against shallow, vapid, image-obsessed social media culture, with fierce, blistering riffs, furious, stormy drums and killer vocals from Tali Källström that suggest she is not a person to fuck with. Discussing 'Body', Källström offers; “Resist the paradigms of our digital world, that demands a status of sanitised and pristine physical attractiveness, regardless of truth or fact. Choose not to follow. Search for truth in yourself.”

Having just supported Garbage on their recent UK tour, Estrons are preparing to release their much-anticipated debut album. You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough will be out on October 5th, an LP described as "the culmination of over two years hard touring and honing of a sound that has become theirs and theirs alone."






Suede - Flytipping
Like many of the other legendary indie bands who graced the 90s, Suede are right back on their very best form, making music that sounds and FEELS essential. Many would argue that Brett Anderson and his group have been creatively revived ever since their 2003 split was followed by a brilliant comeback earlier this decade. 2013 saw the release of the anthemic Bloodsports, while 2016's Night Thoughts took a step into darker introspection. It seems that Suede are on a roll; The Blue Hour is the best album of the trilogy, and the band's grandest, most epic record yet.

As the shadowy closer 'Flytipping' sprawls out to achieve an ambitious and triumphant closing moment, the picture completes itself very nicely. Alternating solemn, graceful orchestral sounds with raw, swaggering rock n roll, bursting with terrific guitars, The Blue Hour shows Suede reaching upwards and outwards to create a work of magnificent, epic beauty. Suede will be playing UK and European tour dates in October. Read a full review of the album HERE.






The Coral - Reaching Out For A Friend

Another wonderful track from The Coral, who have become the experts at producing splendid, distinctly Liverpool-flavoured psychedelic pop. This one comes with a brightly coloured animated video too. The song is from their recent seventh album 'Move Through The Dawn'. 

Signed albums, limited edition vinyl and cassettes are available exclusively on the official online store, alongside ’Into The Void’, a new book from The Coral’s keyboardist, Nick Power. ‘Into The Void’ is a first hand account of the recording, release and touring of the band's album ‘Distance Inbetween’.





Muse - The Dark Side

It's bound to be divisive, but I'm enjoying Muse's new space-age power ballad sound. Complete with another sci-fi flavoured video featuring Matt Bellamy in his flashy futuristic sports car, 'The Dark Side' is another song from the upcoming album 'Simulation Theory'. It comes out on November 9 and has sleeve art recalling Star Wars and Stranger Things.

Pre-order Simulation Theory through the band’s Official Shop for early access to tickets for Muse’s 2019 tour: http://simulationtheory.muse.mu/




Parquet Courts - Freebird II

Another superb track taken from the American band's sixth studio album 'Wide Awake!' On working with producer Danger Mouse, frontman Andrew Savage said, "I personally liked the fact that I was writing a record that indebted to punk and funk, and Brian’s a pop producer who’s made some very polished records. I liked that it didn’t make sense."

"There's this duality between joy and anger that I find to be really interesting, and that's something the record kind of deals with at large. I always thought it was really interesting how hardcore could be such an angry music form but could make you feel so positive. There's a lot of moments on the record when all of us are singing at the same time and I guess that's something I kind of associate with hardcore, or Funkadelic."




Slaves - Bugs
This is the sort of thing that has put a rocket up the arse of British music recently. Punk duo Slaves released their third album 'Acts Of Fear And Love' a few weeks ago, scoring another Top 10 chart entry in the process. The fearsome blast of 'Bugs' is a razor sharp moment, seething with brutal energy.




The Living End - Amsterdam

The emotional, Billy Bragg-like 'Amsterdam' is the second track from The Living End’s superb new album Wunderbar, released on September 28. It's the Australian punk rock trio's eighth full length effort, and is their most diverse body of work yet.





Thom Yorke - Suspirum
Alluring, sparse new track from the Radiohead frontman. It comes from Thom Yorke's upcoming 25-track "Suspiria" soundtrack, which is due out Oct. 26 on XL Recordings. The original 1977 horror "Suspiria" was directed by Dario Argento, with a score composed by the Italian rock band Goblin. The 2018 remake also takes place in the 1970s, and is released on Nov. 2. 

Yorke talked about composing the film's music: “It was an odd process from the beginning. When Luca [Guadagnino] first came to see me, with the producers and [editor] Walter [Fasano], I just thought they were mad, because I’ve never done a soundtrack before. And ‘Suspiria’ is one of those legendary soundtracks. It took a few months to even contemplate the idea. It was one of those moments in your life where you kind want to run away, but you know you'll regret it if you do."

"I watched the original film several times, and I loved it because it was of that time, an incredibly intense soundtrack. Obviously, Goblin and Dario [Argento] worked incredibly closely when they did it together. But it was of its time and there was no way I could reference it in any way. There was no point, other than what I found interesting was they used repetition of motifs, again and again and again. Part of your mind is saying, ‘Please, I don’t want to hear this anymore.' That was really great. That's sort of hooked me into the whole process."

Yorke added, "There’s a way of repeating in music that can hypnotize. I kept thinking to myself that it’s a form of making spells. So when I was working in my studio, I was making spells. I know it sounds really stupid, but that’s how I was thinking about it. It was a sort of freedom I’ve not had before. I’m not working in the format of song arrangement. I’m just exploring ... It was a really cool way to totally immerse myself in an area that I normally wouldn't go, with full permission."




Paul McCartney - I Don't Know/Fuh You

It’s become a long running cliche over the years to enthusiastically declare that Paul McCartney has "returned to form" pretty much every time he's released anything since The Beatles that wasn’t terrible. This time, his new album Egypt Station contains more brilliant Macca moments than anything he’s made in years. Although it thrives on a surprisingly contemporary sound, at the same time much of it recalls various points of his long as me illustrious career. The highlights include the stunning Abbey Road-like 'I Don’t Know', a beautifully soulful track which ranks as one of his very best.

McCartney said: "I liked the words 'Egypt Station.' It reminded me of the 'album' albums we used to make... 'Egypt Station' starts off at the station on the first song and then each song is like a different station. So it gave us some idea to base all the songs around that. I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from."

There's also the upbeat ‘Come On Me’, and ‘Confidente’, a touching acoustic ode to his old guitar. Aside from the gorgeous ‘Hand In Hand', when you get past the first few tracks, the best stuff remaining is the material that doesn’t sound much like McCartney at all: the hugely divisive Coldplay-on-viagra singalong 'Fuh You', the closing medley ‘Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link’, the odd bossa nova of 'Back In Brazil’, and the Chic-like 'Caesar Rock'. Elsewhere, the epic multi-part 'Despite Repeated Warnings' is a bit of an awkward, disjointed listen, it’s lyrics concerning a ship with a dangerous captain at the helm, in what is probably a political metaphor. Brilliant and flawed, but this time brilliant shines more noticeably. 8/10 is my verdict.





Gorillaz - Trans
Urgent cosmic brilliance from Gorillaz, featuring wondrous synths and 80s electro vibes. Damon Albarn's virtual group have released a new video for this track from the highly recommended recent album 'The Now Now'. It's a set of songs that provide a noticeable contrast to last year's 'Humanz'. Wheras that album and its predecessors were often very busy in terms of arrangements, and full of guest vocalists, 'The Now Now' relies more on the masterful songwriting skills of Albarn, and his production methods.




The Orb - The End Of The End
The brilliant opening track from the ambitious, eclectic new LP 'No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds'. This one finds their trademark ambient dub house sounds combining with enchanting soul-pop songwriting, with vocals from Emma Gillespie. While much Orb material of recent years has been characterised by minimalism, their 15th studio album finds the electronic legends exploring a dynamic range of influences, moods and sonic possibilities. The record also sees the duo collaborating with a host of guests including Youth, Jah Wobble, Hollie Cook and Roger Eno.

“I wanted to try something with more musicians and more voices. More contributors essentially - similar to the conditions our first album ‘Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld’ were recorded in”, explains Alex Paterson. “Thomas and I made two streamlined, techno-style albums for Kompakt which I love, but this time I wanted a change to expand the palate, and to bring in other elements that will keep people guessing and keep them confused. This is a more English and less German sounding LP and it’s on an English label, although obviously the music comes from all over the globe and beyond, as do the musicians.”  One of 2018's best albums and the finest Orb record in many years, it sounds amazing on limited edition blue vinyl (which I think is still available at the time of posting).

The Orb will be celebrating their 30th anniversary by playing a six date UK tour this Autumn. The shows will feature a Greatest Hits set alongside tracks from the new album.




Chase And Status ft. Cutty Ranks - Retreat 2018
It's not often that dubstep and drum n bass sounds feature on Rewind/Fast Forward, but they have to be exceptionally brilliant to do so. This single from London duo Chase And Status is packed with old school jungle flavours, and is a remake of a 1980's track by dancehall legend Cutty Ranks

Chase and Status are one of the most commercially successful acts associated with drum'n'bass and dubstep, with multi-platinum albums, numerous charting singles, and production work for major artists like Snoop Dogg and Rihanna. Consisting of dance DJs and record-label owners Saul Milton and Will Kennard, with additional live performers, the group combine cutting-edge beats and production techniques with elements of rock, pop, reggae, hip-hop, and other styles, resulting in energetic tracks fit for the club as well as the radio.





Orbital - The End Is Nigh
The masterful electronic duo Orbital have just released their first album in six years, and it's excellent. Monsters Exist is a dynamic piece of work, balanced between dark, heavy, dreamy, upbeat and euphoric moods, and full of tracks filled with hugely satisfying and proudly weird synth sounds. 

After an ecstatically received series of reunion shows in 2017, the techno giants have spent 2018 playing a string of high-profile festival dates and headline shows across Europe. Having rebuilt their partnership as a live force, the new record displays that their future is bright in terms of creativity and continued relevance. The full length album version of the slightly Daft Punk-like 'The End Is Nigh' dips into techno-funk, lit up by brightly sizzling pads that beam across its thick beats. 

While Monsters Exist starts and ends without much clarity, everything in between shows the duo hitting with full force. The deluxe edition features a number of excellent tracks that would be more than worthy of inclusion on the main record, and adds to a package that more than makes up for the duo's six year absence. Strange, varied and admirably fresh, Monsters Exist is a great addition to the Orbital catalogue and one of the decade's best electronic albums. 

Read the full review HERE, where you can also listen to the album in full.





Disclosure - Where You Come From/Where Angels Fear To Tread
Last month in August, Disclosure released five brand new tracks online, all of them more than worthy of a listen. The vibrant 'Where You Come From' is a fine bit of house filled with African flavours. A new album is due for release next year. Speaking about the track, the duo said: "'Where You Come From' samples the incredible Sudanese artist Kamal Keila and a few other tracks from the amazing record label Habibi Funk."

The blissful 'Where Angels Fear To Tread' gives off a alluring summer vibe. It samples a version of 'Fools Rush In' by The Four Freshmen, which Disclosure say was "one of the earliest groups to incorporate advanced jazz harmony into this style and inspired the likes of The Beach Boys."




Brix And The Extricated - Prime Numbers
Untamed energy and fantastic riffs from Brix And The Extricated, taken from their new album Breaking State. The LP is out on 26th October. Lead track ‘Prime Numbers’ is "about sacred geometry and mathematics as the language of the universe. Non physical consciousness and chaos magic.” Featuring the iconic Brix Smith-Start and other former members of The Fall, the band embark on a UK tour in October and November.

The cover art for Breaking State was designed by the renowned comic book illustrator Rufus Dayglo (Tank Girl, 2000AD, Gorillaz, Judge Dredd, Ramones).




The Smashing Pumpkins - Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)
Breezy, gleaming new music from The Smashing Pumpkins. It's taken from the band's first album in four years, and the first to feature James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlain since 2000. After splitting 18 years ago, frontman Billy Corgan relaunched the group in 2006 with a revolving cast of different musicians, before reuniting with original members Iha and Chamberlain. 'Shiny and Oh So Bright Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.' will be released on November 16. 




Jon Hopkins - Singularity
Hard-hitting bass, cascading beats and a track that builds brilliantly. It's the title track from the superb 'Singularity', the fifth full length LP from British electronic genius Jon Hopkins, released earlier this year in May.





Low - Disarray
The new album from Low is a major departure from their previous work. Putting down the acoustic guitars and folk sounds in favour cold electronic tones, 'Double Negative' was released on September 15, gathering a lot of acclaim. The pulsating 'Disarray' is a beautiful moment.





White Lies - Time To Give
White Lies have announced the details of their forthcoming fifth album, entitled Five. The LP will be released in February 2019. From it here is the brilliant lead single 'Time To Give'. The band said: “This is a milestone record for White Lies. It marks our decade as a band, which has pushed us to expand our sound and reach new territory artistically – it marks the start of a new and exciting chapter for us.”


The record was produced by Ed Buller, who also worked on two previous White Lies albums, along with engineer James Brown (Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters), and renowned producer Flood..





She Makes War - Undone
'Undone' is another excellent track from 'Brace For Impact', the fourth album from Bristol-based indie rock multi-instrumentalist Laura Kidd, aka She Makes War. Written in a daze the day after Laura’s grandmother Constance died last May, ‘Undone’’s monster guitars deliver palpable rage at the bad things that happen to good people, the song acting as an openhearted rallying cry against the British stiff upper lip brigade. “We need to give ourselves a break”, she says. “Giving ourselves time to feel devastated doesn’t make us weak.”

‘I was told I feel things too much’, she sang on 2016’s “Paper Thin” (featuring guest vocals by Belly’s Tanya Donelly), but with age, experience and the bitter state of the world comes confirmation empathy should be treasured as a rare strength.





The Prodigy - Light Up The Sky
British electronic legends The Prodigy unleash another slamming chunk of chaos from the upcoming eighth album 'No Tourists'. Released on November 2, the album's cover photo depicts a Routemaster bus on route 7 with its destination being The Four Aces in Dalston where the band played their first gig in 1990, perhaps hinting at a return to their rave roots. Liam Howlett explained that its title refers to the album's theme of escapism, "and the want and need to be derailed. Don't be a tourist – there is always more danger and excitement to be found if you stray from the set path". According to Howlett, No Tourists will display the same amount of aggression as previous albums, "but in a different way"




Django Django - Swimming At Night
Hot on the heels of their fine third album 'Marble Skies', art-rock combo Django Django are releasing an EP featuring six brand new tracks. The insanely catchy 'Swimming At Night' comes from the upcoming 'Winter's Beach', which is out October 12.





Kelly Moran - Helix
Long Island-based composer, producer, keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Kelly Moran has signed to Warp Records. The wondrous 'Helix' is taken from the forthcoming new album ‘Ultraviolet’ out 2 November. According to the label, the record "plays to a wider, more arresting array of stylistic influences: dazzling inflections of jazz and dream pop, neoclassical and black metal, darkness and light, encapsulated in a single, mystifying LP." 



September 2018 was one of the greatest months for music in living memory. It also saw the release of amazing albums from bands including Menace Beach, whose 'Black Rainbow Sound' was reviewed HERE. The Blinders released their fearsome debut 'Columbia', Aphex Twin unleashed the brilliantly weird 'Collapse' EP, Bristol trio Beak released their third album, and last but certainly not least, Spiritualized's magnificent comeback 'And Nothing Hurt', one of their finest works.