Friday, 31 August 2018

ALBUM: Idles - Joy As An Act Of Resistance (2018)

Released today. You can listen to the album via YouTube below, and if you appreciate the music, go and buy yourself a copy. 

Bristol punks Idles are back with their highly anticipated second LP – ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’ is out today via Partisan Records and causing a major buzz.

Produced by Space and mixed by Adam Greenspan and Nick Launay (Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kate Bush), ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance.’ takes aim at everything from toxic masculinity, nationalism, immigration, and class inequality – all while maintaining a visceral, infectious positivity.

The Brief by frontman Joe Talbot:

‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance.’ is a parade.

It’s a parade of laughing at the funeral, of listening to the bastards, of phlegm on the mirror.
It’s a parade of my Grandfather’s wit, it is all the shit haircuts I’ve ever had.
It is a parade of naivety, of a warm embrace, it is Young Thug’s dress.
It’s the parade of being carried through the grim dark.
It’s a parade of laughing at yourself. It is love. It is loving yourself.
It is a parade of Tony Benn’s smile.
It is Idles, for now. It’s the beautiful smell of immigrant food.
It is a parade of vulnerability. It is Ilie Nastase.
It’s a parade of being at your worst. It is our best, for now.
It is our thank you. It is our sorry.
It is a parade without fluff but with a ton of glitter and violence.
It is a parade of what I truly miss and what I truly have.
It is a parade of the second album. It is us cutting its fucking head off.
It is a parade of joy in the face of all we don’t want and all we fear.
It is a parade of you.
Thank you.

The band are touring the UK in October.

ALBUM: Mogwai - KIN: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2018)

Released today. You can listen to the album via YouTube below, and if you appreciate the music, go and buy yourself a copy. 

Following on from last year's 'Every Country's Sun', 'KIN: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack' was recorded for the upcoming sci-fi/crime drama starring Zoë Kravitz, James Franco, Dennis Quaid, and others. 

In a statement, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite said, “We were really excited to be asked to record the original score for Jonathan and Josh Baker’s debut movie KIN. It was amazing to do a project that was so different to anything we’ve done before and see how our music fits in a totally different environment to how it’s been used before.”

As well as a number of EPs and nine studio albums, Mogwai have also composed the soundtracks 'Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait', the French TV series Les Revenants, the documentary 'Atomic, Living in Dread and Promise' and also co-wrote the score to Fisher Stevens' 2016 documentary film about climate change 'Before the Flood' with Trent Reznor and others.

Track Of The Day: Iggy Pop and Underworld - Get Your Shirt

From 'Tea Time Dub Encounters', the new four track EP from Iggy Pop and Underworld, a record described by the NME as "Batshit brilliance from three mad scientists with so much still to prove". 

The rock legend and techno duo originally met up to collaborate on music intended for the Trainspotting 2 soundtrack, but plans changed and instead we ended up with a whole EP of crazy, awesome music from this brilliant pairing.As well as the recent Track Of The Day entries 'Trapped' and 'Bells And Circles, the EP also features 'Get Your Shirt', a slow grower that gradually gets deep under your skin.

Rewind: Electrasy - Morning Afterglow

When it comes to big, emotional Britpop ballads, it doesn't get much better than this sublime, underrated single from Electrasy, released 20 years ago in August 1998. It's exactly the sort of thing that people were crying out for Oasis to come up with at the time, yet when it was one of the less publicised bands, it fared less well. Although number 19 wasn't a bad chart position from a relatively unknown new group. 'Morning Afterglow' was one of three Top 75 entries for the Dorset band, who formed in 1994. The song was taken from the debut album 'Beautiful Insane'. They would record two more albums before splitting in 2002. Guitarist and songwriter Nigel Nisbett is now a solo artist.

ALBUM: The Divine Comedy - Fin De Siecle (1998)

The Divine Comedy released their sixth studio album 'Fin De Siecle' 20 years ago this week on 31 August 1998. This was the first album that I ever purchased by Neil Hannon and his band, and it is one of their finest works. It features the brilliant singles 'Generation Sex' and 'The Certainty Of Chance', as well as the hit 'National Express' and the powerful closer 'Sunrise', which documents Hannon's experiences growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

You can listen to the album via YouTube below, and if you appreciate the music, go and buy yourself a copy. 

The Best Of August 2018 PLAYLIST + ROUND-UP

Welcome to the August 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 new music from Suede, Menace Beach, Crack Cloud, Drenge, The Orb, Slaves, James, She Makes War, Beak, Mogwai, Orbital, Aphex Twin, TVAM, Goatman, Basement Revolver, Paul Weller, The Blinders, She Drew The Gun, Metric, Underworld and Iggy Pop, Santigold, Nine Inch Nails, Spiritualized, Johnny Marr, BC Camplight, and Paul McCartney.

James - Hank/Many Faces
Their last two albums have found Manchester indie veterans James enjoying something of a renaissance. They can't do it again can they? Turns out they can; 'Living In Extraordinary Times' is even better than the previous two records, and one of this treasured group's finest albums. 

With its big menacing drums, snarling bass, and heavy fuzz on the vocal, 'Hank' is opened outwards by those distinctive, powerful horns that are used brilliantly here to create an air of optimistic defiance, and a sense of rising up. It sets out the backdrop of these extraordinary times that the album's title refers to, times in which the most powerful country in the world is under the control of an arrogant, moronic billionaire, who already earned the title of Worst American President In History after just a few days in office. Clearly not a fantasy concept album, but a record about the state of this world we currently live in, and how we are treating each other as human beings. Once it all becomes clear, and you get to the core of this album, you realise how hard it can hit.

This is especially true of the glorious 'Many Faces', where the message is spelt loud and clear: "there's only one human race, many faces, everybody belongs here". Set to acoustic guitar and mariachi-like horns before building itself up into a true anthem of unity and hope, it's classic James. Living proof that a bands best work isn't always from their younger days, and that age means experience, not being past your peak. Somehow, James just keep on hitting the targets and confounding expectations. 

Read the review of 'Living In Extraordinary Times' HERE.

Drenge - Before The War Begins
Described as "half a love song, and half a hate song", this moody alt-rock cracker from Drenge will be one of four tracks included on their upcoming EP 'Autonomy', which is released on October 5. 

“Like most of our work, it’s a experiment in traditional songwriting gone wrong. A long hot summer and a hosepipe ban has the narrator comparing their deteriorating and dehydrated love life to a war torn city. Along the way they consider how 62 years after the Hungarian revolution there are still places where you can see the bullet holes in the walls in Budapest and how being whisked up by an exciting stranger translates to a long term relationship.”

She Makes War - Devastate Me
Bristol-based multi instrumentalist She Makes War is getting ready to release her fourth album 'Brace For Impact', the follow up to 2016's much recommended 'Direction Of Travel'. It'll be brilliant if 'Devastate Me' is anything to go by, a fiery no-nonsense Britpop attitude matched up with an explosive chorus and the sort of heaving riffage that brings to mind The Breeders, Garbage and other alt rock heroes. She Makes War will be touring the UK in October and November. If you sign up to the mailing list, you will get 5 free songs at

Idles - Samaritans
The new album from Bristol punks Idles is out today (August 31). 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance' sees the band step up to a new level with terrific raw anthems that inspriingly capture the state of the UK, the world and modern day life. 'Samaritans' is another hard hitting moment, dealing with the stigma of male depression and the mask of masculinity.

Mogwai - We're Not Done
A stunning, scenic moment of gracefully surging euphoria from MogwaiFollowing on from last year's 'Every Country's Sun', the Glasgow band are releasing 'KIN: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack', recorded for the upcoming sci-fi/crime drama starring Zoë Kravitz, James Franco, Dennis Quaid, and others. 

In a statement, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite said, “We were really excited to be asked to record the original score for Jonathan and Josh Baker’s debut movie KIN. It was amazing to do a project that was so different to anything we’ve done before and see how our music fits in a totally different environment to how it’s been used before.”

KIN: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is out August 31. As well as a number of EPs and nine studio albums, Mogwai have also composed the soundtracks 'Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait', the French TV series Les Revenants, the documentary 'Atomic, Living in Dread and Promise' and also co-wrote the score to Fisher Stevens' 2016 documentary film about climate change 'Before the Flood' with Trent Reznor and others.

Underworld and Iggy Pop - Trapped/Get Your Shirt
A superb bit of techno krautrock punk from 'Tea Time Dub Encounters', the new four track EP from Iggy Pop and Underworld, a record described by the NME as "Batshit brilliance from three mad scientists with so much still to prove". Over time, I have noticed a clear Fall influence in Underworld's music, and since The Fall were partly influenced by Iggy And The Stooges, it makes sense that as well as hints of Suicide and Can, this collaboration bears echoes of Mark E Smith's work, especially this, with its strict mechanical repetition building fiercely alongside a mad narrative. 

The rock legend and techno duo originally met up to collaborate on music intended for the Trainspotting 2 soundtrack, but plans changed and instead we ended up with a whole EP of crazy, awesome music from this brilliant pairing.

As well as the excellent 'Bells And Circles' (featured in last month's playlist), the EP also features 'Get Your Shirt', a slow grower that gradually gets deep under your skin.

BC Camplight - I'm Desperate
Urgent, pulsing suspense races through this excellent track from BC Camplight. Bringing to mind something resembling The Cure meets Arcade Fire, 'I'm Desperate' is taken from the American multi-instrumentalist Brian Christinzio's fourth album 'Deportation Blues', released later this month on the Bella Union label.

Goatman - Jaam Ak Salam
Crazed shouting, urgent rhythms, dazzling bursts of brass, fat bass, lively flickers of guitar, heavy African vibes, multiple analog synth solos, ecstatic handclaps, a joyous repetitive, psychedelic groove... If these things appeal to you, give this excellent new track by Goatman a try. The mysterious artist is a member of the incredible Swedish band Goat, and is also signed to the otherworldly Rocket Recordings label. 'Jaam Ak Salam' is taken from a forthcoming album called 'Rhythms'. 

Slaves - Chokehold
Unmistakably British punk, the sort that spits in your face as soon as it hits your ears. Representing a progression in the Kent duo's sound, where they used to sound a bit like the Beastie Boys mixed with Crass, this is not far from what Blur would sound like if they formed a supergroup with Sham 69. From the new album 'Acts Of Fear And Love'.

The Blinders - Brave New World
A fierce, dark, heavy glam rock stomp from The Blinders, which can be found on the Manchester band's forthcoming debut album 'Columbia'.

Aphex Twin - T69 Collapse
One day, Aphex Twin might decide to stop making totally deranged and brilliant music. I hope that day never comes. This is taken from the forthcoming EP 'Collapse', which will released via Warp Records on September 14.

Paul Weller - Moving On
The warm, relaxed beauty of this new Paul Weller track provides much optimism for his upcoming new album 'True Meanings'. A legendary artist who just keeps on creating superb sounds, keeping his work fresh through exploring an array of styles. Released on September 14, Weller's 14th solo studio album is billed as "a 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."

'True Meaning's features contributions from folk legends Martin Carthy and Danny Thompson, plus Conor O'Brien, Noel Gallagher and Lucy Rose. Weller will be playing at the Bristol Downs festival tomorrow, September 1st along with Noel Gallagher and others.

Santigold - Run The Road
Infectious chorus, an addictively enjoyable digital reggae groove, and some great production. Some superb recent sounds courtesy of Santigold, taken from her fourth album 'I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions'.

Nine Inch Nails - Shit Mirror
In 2018, I would say that Trent Reznor is arguably the one artist pushing rock and metal to new, innovative places.

The recent Nine Inch Nails album 'Bad Witch' offers up a strange, terrifying and rewarding listening experience, continuing the evolution of his band with a fierce, uncompromising and powerful record. On the opening 'Shit Mirror', heavy industrial krautrock rhythms are coupled with savage guitars to create an explosive kind of motorik metal.

Elsewhere on 'Bad Witch', there are grainy drum n bass assaults, bursts of rampaging acid techno, sketchy, distorted beats, ominous free jazz interludes, nightmare inducing atmospheres, and a fine bit of robotic mechanical  funk on the closing 'Over And Out'.

With a solemn underlying beauty peering through the recesses, this is a fascinating, brutal record, one of those albums that demands you to stop everything you're doing and listen. Inheriting a space in the cosmos somewhere near David Bowie's final album 'Blackstar', these ears can also detect shades of Aphex Twin, Throbbing Gristle, Boards Of Canada, Can and even Radiohead. In reality, it's both all and none of these things, 'Bad Witch' is the sort of record that only Trent Reznor could put together

Menace Beach - Crawl In Love
Taken from their superb new album 'Black Rainbow Sound', this track from Leeds duo Menace Beach is bursting at the seams with squalling analogue synths, a monster of a shoegazey riff, a pleasingly lo-fi drum sound, and a weird druggy atmosphere billowing from its groove like a dense smoke. In places, almost bringing to mind a more psychedelic, shoegazey version of Mansun. Released on August 31, 'Black Rainbow Sound' also features collaborations with ex Fall member Brix Start-Smith, who now fronts Brix And The Extricated.

Suede - Life Is Golden
The third single to be released from Suede's upcoming album 'The Blue Hour' is the most instantly captivating one yet, a stunning moment of uplifting melancholy, with a soaring chorus that wouldn't have sounded out of place on 1996's 'Coming Up'. Possibly the most anthemic song that the indie legends have produced since reforming in 2010 and regaining their status as one of the finest bands around. 

Basement Revolver - Heavy Eyes
Powerful, intense alt-rock, complete with big, militant drums and mesmeric waves of feedback. It's the title track from Canadian trio Basement Revolver's superb debut album, released last week on Aug 24.

Crack Cloud - Drab Measure
Without a doubt one of my favourite tracks from this year. Motorik post-punk with sharp edges, bouncy bass, intricate guitar lines, angular, unstable howls of vocal and a tight rhythm all pushed to maximum limits on this urgent and tantalising track from Crack Cloud. The song can be found on the new self-titled album from the Canadian outfit who describe themselves as "a multimedia collective, comprising members from different cities, ethnicities and origins, who contribute to the sound, visual aesthetic and beyond" They list a few of their sonic influences as Gang Of Four, Fela Kuti and Talking Heads.

Orbital - P.H.U.K.U.
It turns out that the excellent 'P.H.U.K' was just the first part of a bigger thing from the electronic legends Orbital. The Hartnoll brothers have released this new version of the track, and although it's still unclear whether it'll feature on the upcoming album 'Monsters Exist', the bass sounds in this are awesome. Quite frankly, so is everything else featured within its banging 6 minutes and 25 seconds.

'Monsters Exist' is released September 14 and is available HERE in a variety of different formats, including a signed 4LP boxset and double vinyl.

Metric - Dressed To Surpress
Dancefloor euphoria combined with new wave guitars, the new track from the Canadian four piece Metric is a very enjoyable listen. It comes from their upcoming untitled seventh album, released on September 21. So much good music coming out of Canada at the moment...

Beak - Brean Down
Mysterious, gloomy and alluring new music from the Bristol trio Beak. Oddly Pink Floyd-like in places and complete with a great drum sound. The band will be releasing their third album on September 21, as well as hitting the UK for a tour in November. 'Brean Down' is actually named after a coastal location in Somerset. The group are made up of Billy FullerPortishead man and Invada Records boss Geoff Barrow, and Will Young (not THAT one, thankfully)

Spiritualized - Here It Comes 
Relaxed country guitars, gospel vibes and the spirit of Lou Reed light up this new song from the upcoming Spiritualized album 'And Nothing Hurt'. It's very much what you'd expect from Jason Pierce. 

The album, released on September 17, was conceived and recorded almost entirely by Pierce, AKA J. Spaceman – in an upstairs room in his east London home.

“Making this record on my own sent me more mad than anything I’ve done before. We’d been playing these big shows and I really wanted to capture that sound we were making but, without the funds to do, I had to find a way to work within the constraints of what money I had. So I bought a laptop and made it all in a little room in my house. The biggest thing for me was to try to make it sound like a studio session. But I was new to it all, I didn’t have all the short cuts people use as when they’re making records – I just sat there for weeks… for months… moving every level up bit by bit just to try to get the sounds right.”

TVAM - These Are Not Your Memories
Ear-pleasing psychedelic pop from TVAM, with an excellent job done on the production. The Wigan-based artist, also known as Joe Oxley, will be releasing his debut album 'Psychic Data' on October 19. 

Speaking about 'These Are Your Memories', Oxley said: "I’m sick of nostalgia. There’s a real sadness at the heart of it. We’re obsessed with our pop culture past. So much so, we place more worth on the idea of our shared past than on actual memories and I’m guiltier than most other people. The internet is capable of truly amazing things, but being able to recall the theme tune to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at three in the morning isn’t one of them. The song is about taking society aside and having a quiet word about its shared identity crisis."

Johnny Marr - Walk Into The Sea
Beautifully haunting, mysterious and powerful moment from Johnny Marr's recent album 'Call The Comet'. His third solo LP is the Smiths guitar legend's most accomplished collection of songs yet, and filled with vibes that evoke other worlds while still always bringing to mind the sound of Manchester.

She Drew The Gun - Resister
You can hear all sorts of influences on this urgent new track from She Drew The Gun. 'Resister' is the opening song from 'Revolution Of Mind', the second album from the project of Liverpool artist Louisa Roach. “I’ve always felt drawn to music that says something,” explains Roach, “music that goes beyond simple love songs. As a songwriter, you’ve got the whole spectrum of human experience to draw from; half of that is the bigger picture stuff.”

The album is released October 5th on Skeleton Key Records. Roach lists its central themes as: “Empowerment; resisting; arming yourself with knowledge; questioning the status quo, questioning your own state of mind and how it’s affected by the systems we live in…”

The Orb - Pillow Fight @ Shag Mountain
Dub rhythms, house vibes, an infectious groove, ambient piano and samples aplenty all play a part in this wondrous slice of laid-back late night euphoria. It is without a doubt, classic Orb. The recent 'No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds' is the finest Orb record in many years, and sounds amazing on limited edition blue vinyl (which I think is still available at the time of posting).

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 YouthJah WobbleHollie 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.”

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.

UK tour dates:

11th Oct – CARDIFF – Tramshed Tickets
12th Oct – BRISTOL – SWX Tickets
13th Oct – NEWCASTLE – Tickets
18th Oct – LIVERPOOL – Invisible Wind Factory Tickets
19th Oct – BRIGHTON – Concorde 2 Tickets
20th Oct – SHEFFIELD – Academy 2 Tickets

Paul McCartney - Come On To Me
It's hard to disagree with the fact that Paul McCartney is the biggest musical legend still alive today. Back with a new album, his return couldn't have come at a better time. With the all-time greats slowly disappearing from the world that they have coloured, it makes a welcome change to hear brand new music from one of history's greatest songwriters rather than reading another obituary.

It's also a welcoming surprise to say that these two new tracks are the best things Macca has produced in a long time, both evoking a more contemporary echo of The White Album. Which one shall I choose today: the beautiful 'I Don't Know' or the upbeat, classic McCartney singalong 'Come On To Me'? The latter will do nicely. 'Egypt Station' is released on September 7.

Read an interesting interview with producer Greg Kirsten about recording the album in Los Angeles, Sussex and Abbey Road, HERE.

REWIND: The Best of August 1998 PLAYLIST + ROUND-UP

Listen to a selection of the best tracks from August 1998. Every month I revisit the music that we were listening to 20 years ago, and compile them into a YouTube playlist for your viewing and listening pleasure. Ideal for nostalgic journeys and reliving your youth, or maybe you're discovering these tracks for the first time. 

You can stream the playlist in full below, and read about each individual track further down the page. 

The August 1998 edition features music from Babybird, Manic Street Preachers, Mansun, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Electrasy, Theaudience, Placebo, The Bluetones, Shed Seven, Mover ft Ruby Turner, The Dandy Warhols, Puressence, Embrace, Kenickie, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Apollo 440, Sash!, Klubbheads, Paul Van Dyk, Souvlaki, D'Menace, Lucid, Airscape, David Morales, DeeJay Punk-Roc, Faithless, Storm and Moby.

Theaudience - I Know Enough (I Don't Get Enough)

A jangly, melodic indie pop gem from a short lived but memorable group, which reached number 25 in the UK singles chart. They are best known for launching the career of Sophie Ellis Bextor, who was their singer.

Theaudience weren't a million miles away from other female fronted indie bands of the time, yet they could've never been mistaken for Sleeper or Echobelly. They reminded me more of Blondie covering The Smiths, or Chrissie Hynde fronting The Bluetones, but with a sassy, smartly stylish edge to the music, particularly Bextor's honey-covered vocals. They coupled fizzing indie guitar melodies with sophisticated lyrics more suited to the language of intellectual conversation rather than pop music.

The band formed when DJ and record label press guy Billy Reeves hatched a plan to launch an indie guitar band with a female singer. After meeting Bextor at an indie club night, he formed Theaudience, padding out the band's line up with members who looked and played more like session musicians. Although it sounds like the excited work of a hotly tipped group who are only getting started, 'I Know Enough' was their fourth and final single. Their main songwriter Reeves left the band around around the release of their enjoyable self-titled debut album due to "extreme frustration", and subsequently their label Mercury opted not to release any more singles from the LP. The remaining members cobbled together some music of their own, destined for an unreleased second album which was rejected by Mercury. They apparently disbanded in late 1998. “I signed my first record deal when I was 17 and everything was going to be amazing, and by the time I was 20 we’d split up and I didn’t have a deal anymore" remembers Sophie. "In a short space of time I experienced the upwards trajectory and the shift downwards.”

Many of the indie bands of the late 90s were very important for me musically. The songs of that era really did shape my life and musical tastes. But as a 14 year old kid, this band also shaped my taste in other areas too, thanks to their striking singer. The male-dominated music press were forever putting too much emphasis on the looks of female musicians, but in this case it was pretty much impossible for them not to. Glamour and sexiness were not things that I or many others associated indie music with. Then Sophie Ellis Bextor stole the hearts of every indie boy in the country. In 1998, readers of Melody Maker elected Bextor as the ‘sexiest person in rock’. After seeing an immaculate 18 year old Sophie on the cover of that same publication, I immediately developed my biggest teenage crush. It wasn't just her appearance, but her sultry vocal delivery; innocent and angelic one moment, authoritive and seductive the next. It was thanks to this ice cool, pouting indie princess that it became my mission in life to find myself someone who I was equally attracted to. I'm sure every man has one teenage crush that took their interest in the opposite sex to new levels. As a 14 year old indie kid in 1998, Bextor was like something from a dream. With that in mind, the lyrics to this particular song were open to interpretation: what does she mean by "I don't get enough of that stuff"? 

During the silence that followed Theaudience's split, I wondered how and why someone with as much talent and star potential as Sophie hadn't been seen for a while. About a year later I hear an uplifting dance track featuring a very familiar vocalist. It turned out to be the unmistakable voice of Bextor, lending her tones to Spiller's massive club anthem 'Groovejet (If This Ain't Love. Suddenly everyone was talking about this striking new singer as if she had appeared from nowhere, when I had been fascinated by her for a couple of years. And the rest is history: it was almost impossible for her not to become a star... Reeves, meanwhile became a sports journalist, producer and broadcaster on BBC London. They only existed for a short period in time, and their singer went on to bigger things, but I still remember Theaudience with a lot of fondness.

D'Menace - Deep Menace (Spank)
Up until a few days ago, I had forgotten this song existed. I hadn't heard it in 20 years. Just one play later and this nagging dancefloor scorcher is lodged in my brain. Originally released in the USA the previous year, this came out in the UK on the Inferno label. It reached number 20 in the UK singles chart. D'Menace were American house producer Sandy Rivera (Kings Of Tomorrow) and Jay Sealee, who also worked together as Mysterious People. This version of the track is a remix by British house DJ Joey Negro.

The Bluetones - Sleazy Bed Track
Smoky bar room vibes on this aptly named single. The Bluetones burst onto the scene in the mid 90s, their debut LP 'Expecting To Fly' becoming one of the essential Britpop albums. Released in 1998, their second full length 'Return To The Last Chance Saloon" was a darker and slightly more hard edged album.

They released four more LPs before splitting in 2011, with singer Mark Morriss releasing some fine solo material. Only a few years later the band reformed, and although they regularly tour, no plans for new music have yet been announced.Sleazy Bed Track reached number 35 in the UK singles chart.

Puressence - It Doesn't Matter Anymore

Another one of the best songs from 1998. Powerful, epic emotional indie rock was something that renowned Manchester combo Puressence did very well. This reached number 47 in the UK singles chart. Along with their previous single, the stunning 'This Feeling', this track was taken from their second album 'Only Forever'. They formed in the early 90s after the band met each other on a bus travelling to The Stone Roses' Spike Island gig. After six LPs, they broke up in 2013. 

The Dandy Warhols - Boys Better
This was The Dandy Warhols at their very best. With an addictive Velvet Underground-style groove and some swaggering, belting riffs, 'Boys Better' was taken from the Oregon band's second album 'Come Down', also released in the UK in 1998. This song went to number 36 in the UK singles charts. The Dandy Warhols have released nine studio albums, their most recent being 2016's 'Distortland'.

Babybird - If You'll Be Mine
Like a sadder, superior, lo-fi relative of 'You're Gorgeous', this mesmerising beauty sounds even better two decades on. Most of the general public remember Babybird for the overplayed, misunderstood 1996 smash hit that I just mentioned. Those who were paying more attention will instead often regard the 1998 album There's Something Going On as the Sheffield band's finest hour: a darker, more focused and accomplished album far more definitive of mastermind Stephen Jones' talents. 'If You'll Be Mine' reached number 28 in the UK singles chart.

Calling the intro dreamy would be the biggest understatement: it's more like waking up to the most beautiful, dazzling light. The song also plays the known Babybird trick of using sweet, beautiful melodies to disguise lyrics that are sad, dark, or sometimes strange. In this case we get poignancy wrapped in a warming, comforting blanket.

It's one of those songs that means so much to me, that I can't help but overthink when I'm writing about it, like no words can sum up that feeling, and that I need to give as much information as possible in order for people to understand its brilliance. I could probably write a whole book on it, and I still wouldn't feel like I'd given it the time it deserves.

Even though no words can do this song justice, that hasn't stopped me from writing an article celebrating 20 years of the amazing 'There's Something Going On'. It can be read in full HERE. Babybird will be playing a short UK tour in December, and has just released a new double album 'Unsung' via Bandcamp. 

This club classic reached number 7 in the UK charts. Dreamy, enchanting vocals provide a touch of ambience that contrasts with the track's big trance hook. Lucid were the duo Mark Hadfield and Adam Carter-Ryan, who also released music together as Jam Factory and Translucid. Their last single came out in 2000, but they continued to remix other artists up until 2012.

Full length audio

Apollo 440 - Lost In Space
Apollo 440's mixture of techno, breakbeat and heavy rock proved to be very popular in the late 90s. After becoming known for their remix work, they had made a commercial breakthrough in 1997 with the album 'Electro Glide In Blue', a record buoyed by its hit singles 'Ain't Talkin' Bout Dub' and 'Krupa'. Afterwards they were asked to record the theme for the 1998 sci-fi film Lost In Space, adapted from the original 1960s TV show, as was this track, which was based on the title theme by legendary film composer John Williams. 

The single became Apollo 440's biggest hit, reaching number 4 in the UK charts. Like a lot of this group's music, admittedly it has a rather dated sound, instantly recognisable as 90s dance music. So I've also included an excellent, hyperactive live version of Lost In Space, recorded for Top Of The Pops, which shows off the band's live performance skills...

Formed in Liverpool in 1990 before relocating to London, the band have recorded five albums. They also produced a number of remixes as ambient cinematic alter-ego Stealth Sonic Orchestra, perhaps best known for remixing the Manic Street Preachers on various occasions. Apollo 440 notched up 11 Top 40 UK singles, and released their most recent album 'The Future's What It Used To Be' in 2012.

Deejay Punk-Roc - Far Out
This lively chunk of breakbeat/hip hop house went to number 43 in the UK singles chart. It can be found on the album 'Chickeneye'. Like many of the artists featured in my Rewind selections from 1998, Deejay Punk-Roc was played a lot on the indie flagship Radio 1 show The Evening Session. There was a lot of confusion over the identity of Deejay Punk-Roc, due to producer Jon Paul Davies handling all the studio work, and Brooklyn DJ Charles Gettis handling the live shows. The alias would last until 2002. 

Davies later released music as Trinity Hi-Fi, a trip hop/house collaboration of other artists. He also had many UK Dance Chart successes under various pseudonyms including Player One and Spork. 

Placebo - Pure Morning
A bona fide alternative classic, released back in August 1998 and reaching number 4 in the UK singles chart. Featuring some of the most brilliantly vicious guitar sounds, as well as some excellent production on those drums. The song began life as a riff played during studio sessions in which the band were recording B sides for their second album 'Without You I'm Nothing', and when eventually completed, was a very late addition to the record. Frontman Brian Molko said the it was overall "a song about friendship", starting from the situation of "coming down when the rest of the world is waking up", such as when clubgoers get home as the sun rises and everyone else is going to work. The feeling of dislocation, "that point you feel like your life is the least sorted ever", would be solved by someone to "slip their arm around you and make slumber easier."

Despite touring over recent years, Placebo haven't made an album since 2013's 'Loud Like Love'. 

Shed Seven - Devil In Your Shoes
Having made their name as one of Britpop's best loved acts in the mid 90s, the York-based band released their third album 'Let It Ride' in 1998, which featured this big, sweeping indie rock anthem. Personally, just as good as any other Shed Seven songs, and up there as one of their very best singles. I'm featuring the full length album version of this, since it was completely butchered as a radio edit, with half of each verse missing, taking away a big part of the songs wonderful melody, and ending up ruining its structure. In fact, in the end all you get is half a verse and a chorus repeated over and over again. No wonder the group had problems with their record company soon after...

The band initially split in 2003, reforming in 2007 and releasing a great album called 'Instant Pleasures' last year in 2017, their first new material in 16 years. 

Fun Lovin' Criminals - Love Unlimited
This ultra-cool, ultra-smooth tribute to Barry White was the first single to be taken from the second Fun Lovin' Criminals album '100% Colombian'. It went to number 18 in the UK charts. 

The New York trio have recently announced a UK tour for early 2019, and the release of a new album 'Another Mimosa', a follow-up to the 1999 compilation 'Mimosa', which featured covers and reworkings of some of their own songs. 

Sash! ft Tina Cousins - Mysterious Times
This big dance hit peaked at number 2 in the UK singles chart. Featuring vocalist Tina Cousins, it was one of many commercially successful club hits by the German trio Sash! and was taken from the album 'Life Goes On'. The CD and 12" singles contained a variety of remixes, from producers including Todd Terry and Tin Tin Out. As well as a number of singles and remixes, Sash! released their sixth album in 2013.

Kenickie - Stay In The Sun/Save All Your Kisses For Me
A big departure from their indie punk sound, this summer disco pop track from Kenickie reached number 43 in the UK charts and was to be their final single.

I consider Kenickie to be a wasted opportunity for the music industry. Formed in 1994, the Sunderland four piece attracted lots of record company interest in their early days, and signed with the EMI subsidiary label EMIDisc. Their debut album 'At The Club' was released in 1997, reaching number 9 and spawning three Top 40 singles. But against the male-dominated guitar scene, the mostly female band were treated as a novelty by the press and others. A shame, because they were a refreshing band whose punky attitude combined with some great songs. Their second album 'Get In' was a more downbeat affair, with more of an emphasis on their pop side. 'Stay In The Sun' does indeed sound like the result of a young band being pressured into making a pop hit, and at the time, a lot of industry people were trying to drop indie bands from labels or mould them into more commercial acts. I can recall seeing the group lip syncing to the song on breakfast TV show GMTV and thinking how sad it looked. It is however a fine song, and the change in style may have just been a natural one. This and the other tracks from 'Get In' often bring to mind London indie pop trio St Etienne, which makes sense when you learn that EMIDisc was run by two of the aforementioned group. The B side to this single featured their weary melancholic take on Brotherhood Of Man's 'Save All Your Kisses For Me', the highlight of a special edition of Channel 4 show Eurotrash where bands would play covers of classic Eurovision songs.

If 'Stay In The Sun' was their bid for a big pop hit, then it didn't go according to plan: the song missed out on the Top 40, reaching number 43. Under huge pressure from their label, the band were threatened with the drop if the album wasn't a success. 'Get In' scraped into the album charts at number 32. Kenickie would split up a couple of months later, ending their career with a gig in London where singer Lauren Laverne closed the "shambolic" show by announcing "we were Kenickie, a bunch of fuckwits", later blaming "music industry scumbags" for their demise. Laverne provided vocals on the Mint Royale single 'Don't Falter' and released a couple of solo tracks before turning her hand to TV presenting. She is now regularly seen on the box and is one of BBC 6Music's most popular DJs. Drummer Johnny X (Pete Gofton) later ended up in Frankie And The Heartstrings, while guitarist Marie du Santiago and bassist Emmy-Kate Montrose formed the short-lived group Rosita. Santiago (real name Marie Nixon) went on to work for music management company Hall Or Nothing, and is now the head of the Students Union at Sunderland University, while still being involved in music as part of folk group The Cornshed Sisters. Meanwhile, Montrose (aka Emma Jackson) became a leading sociologist and editor of The Sociological Review. 

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Let's Get Together (In Our Minds)
Sweet, humble, warming and melodic, one of the most stunning songs of the 90s. It reached number 43 in the UK singles chart and should've been much higher.

The monthly Rewind playlist has recently featured a number of amazing, underrated indie singles from the late 90s that charted lowly. And this is one of the most underrated of all. Gorkys Zygotic Mynci were a Welsh group with a dynamic, highly melodic sound, sometimes described as "psychedelic folk pop". I first heard them on a free CD that came with Select magazine in 1997, which featured their track 'Blood Chant'. After hearing their 'Sweet Johnny' single (featured HERE) being played on Radio 1's legendary Evening Session, I went out and bought a copy. A couple of months later, I heard this and was instantly captured. I expected this to be their big hit, but it missed the Top 40. It's one of the hidden indie gems from the late 90s that I feel very lucky to have discovered.

Gorkys were formed in 1991. Many people expected them to break into the mainstream at some point, but the time never came. Instead, the band have the distinction of being the only group with eight UK Top 75 singles without ever making the Top 40. The beautiful 'Let's Get Together' was the second single from their fifth album Gorky 5. They would release nine albums all together before splitting in 2006. Frontman Euros Childs continued as a prolific solo artist, releasing at least one LP every year since 2006, including the excellent 'Situation Comedy' from 2013.

Embrace - My Weakness Is None Of Your Business
Big strings and big emotions on this single. The song was the fifth single to be taken from Embrace's excellent debut album 'The Good Will Out', a fine example of symphonic post-Britpop indie rock. This single entered the UK singles chart at number 9. The band's seventh studio album 'Love Is A Basic Need' was released earlier this year in 2017.

Mover ft. Ruby Turner - We Got It Going On
Another little-known but awesome single from 20 years ago. Number 93 in the UK charts. After just a few seconds into this joyous track, it's instantly clear that indie band Mover were very much into their Northern Soul music. The guest vocals were supplied by British RnB legend Ruby Turner. With its sweet, bouncy melody and uplifting brass, this was taken from the band's self titled debut album, released the same year. The group were highly rated in the music press, but a lack of airplay and publicity meant that they were never a commercial success, although they did enjoy a good reception in Japan. The band released a second, more funk-based album 'Fly Casual' in 2000 before splitting. Frontman Sam Hazeldine now composes film soundtracks.

Klubbheads - Kickin' Hard
Doing exactly as it says on the tin, this pumping slab of hip hop-flavoured hard house reached number 36 in the UK charts. Formed in 1990, Klubbheads are a team of dance music producers and DJs from the Netherlands, based around the line up of Koen Groeneveld and Addy van der Zwan, with former member Jan Voermans. They have released tracks under more than 40 different aliases for their recordings, including Hi_Tack, DJ Disco and Drunkenmunky. 

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Souvlaki -My Time (Happy Summer Mix)
The summer of 1998 was a great time for dance music. That becomes apparent from the amount of floorfillers that have recently been featured in this and the last few 1998 playlists. Released in August 1998, this banging disco house track went to number 63 in the UK singles chart. I'm not sure why he named himself after a Greek fast food dish, but Souvlaki was the alias of producer Mark Summers, who first had a hit in 1991 with the rave classic 'Summer's Magic', which reached number 17 in the UK charts. 

As well as releasing lots of music under many different pseudonyms, Summers established Scorccio as the world's first ever sample replay service, and in 1996 took his venture into the next stage by working for a large number of major and independent music labels, DJs, producers and recording artists. Ministry of Sound, Defected, Positiva, Universal, Virgin, Sony-BMG (amongst others) all became regular clients of Scorccio.

Paul Van Dyk -For An Angel
This trance classic by German DJ and producer Paul Van Dyk went to number 28 in the UK singles chart. Originally released in 1994, the song was later reworked and re-released in 1998 as the "E-Werk Mix". The song held number one on the UK Dance Chart for several weeks and has gone on to become one of the greatest and most influential trance tracks of all time. The remix by Bristol duo Way Out West featured below is also well worth checking out. Van Dyk has recently announced the release of his ninth album 'Symbols', a record about "historic mysteries, clandestine societies and their respective codes and cyphered meanings".

Manic Street Preachers - If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
It's no secret that I loved the Britpop and loved growing up during that period. But I actually prefer the music of the "post-Britpop" era, those more interesting years of 1997-2000. The 24th August 1998 was a key day in post-Britpop history, since it is the day that Mansun released 'Being A Girl' as a single and Babybird released the astonishing and underrated album 'There's Something Going On'. It is also the day that one of the greatest bands of all time released one of the greatest singles of all time. One of the greatest Number 1 singles too. It is in fact also the longest-titled Number 1 single in history (if you don't include brackets like Meatloaf did). 

I had become a fan of the Manic Street Preachers a couple of years before, when their fourth album 'Everything Must Go' catapulted them into the Premier League of British music. Their fifth LP 'This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours' was a highly anticipated record, and the sombrely anthemic 'If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next' was the first single to be released from it. Reaction among fans was divided at the time: some thought it was too slow and not heavy enough, while others thought it was an amazing and beautiful song. When was the last time that a song about the Spanish Civil War got to Number 1 in the charts? When was the last time a Number 1 single taught us about history and culture? When was the last time a song as good as this reached Number 1? None of those things have happened since. How lucky we were to have been around then. Two random things I love about this track: 1. The soaring guitar solo 2. The final "aaaand" in the last chorus. 

Just in case you didn't know, the Manics released their 13th album earlier this year. The mighty 'Resistance Is Futile' is a reminder of why the Welsh trio remain one of the UK's best-loved bands.

Here's an interview broadcast on Radio 1 on the day of the song's release

And here's a video of James and Nicky talking about the single 20 years later 

Mansun - Being A Girl/Railings
A terrific post-punk stormer from Mansun, reaching number 13 in the UK charts and taken from the band's bewildering post-punk prog masterpiece 'Six'
The single version of the track is a brief 2 minute excerpt which makes up the first part of the epic, eight minute album version, which lifts off into astonishing space rock territory instead of finishing abruptly like the single version does. What the single does give us is a brilliantly self-deprecating view of male insecurity and the mask of masculinity, as well as some fearsome drumming from the band's engine room, Andie Rathbone. Kicking off with some nice hi hat action, it's all about the snares in the second half of each verse, before the whole kit gets a thrashing during that explosive, angsty chorus. 

"'Being a Girl' was an allegory for not being happy in the situation I was in, and wanting something different" said frontman Paul Draper"It was the last thing written, recorded and mixed during the sessions". Interestingly and rather hilariously, the ever-so-slightly homo-erotic video features none other than a young Danny Dyer, in his first major acting role. Featured below is the video, the full length album version, and the B sides that featured on the single. I'm also going to chuck in an astonishing live version of Being A Girl recorded at Brixton Academy in 1998, simply because it's too good not to feature.

A year earlier in 1997 they had a Number 1 with their debut LP 'Attack Of The Grey Lantern' as well as a string of hit singles. They returned in 1998 with the poignant, dark and beautiful 'Legacy' single (featured HERE), one of the bleakest Top 40 singles of all time. By the time 'Being A Girl' was previewed, it became clear that unless they were giving us some major red herrings, 'Six' was certainly not going to be as accessible as their chart-topping debut.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that whenever Draper would write anything resembling a conventional song that could've been a hit, he'd shove it to the side to use as a B side instead. Mansun were famous for this, hence their reputation for creating some of the best EPs of the decade. "The idea was to do enough material to make an album where we could have some relatively straight forward pop songs in case it all went tits up with ‘Six’," Draper told XS Noize"That was made at the same time, we didn’t come back later and just throw together the B sides, it was all done together. We had been piecing together the ‘Six’ project and then we would come off it for a day and record those songs. The very first one we did was ‘King of Beauty‘ and I thought I don’t want to do another album of these pop songs, so the second thing we did was the song ‘Six‘... I was just trying to piss off the record company."

Releasing their singles across a variety of formats meant that fans were in for extra treats every time the band would bring out a new song. CD1 featured the remarkable fan favourite 'Railings', a haunting, intense track written for the band by Magazine and Buzzcocks legend Howard Devoto, who duets on the track with Draper. "Howard sent me some demos he'd done on a cassette, and some sheets of lyrics which arrived at my house in Chester" remembers Paul. "Chad, Andie and I set about recording them. They were 'Everyone Must Win', which we did around the time of the 'Closed for Business' EP, and 'Railings' which we tackled later. Howard wrote the lyrics on both tracks. We recorded 'Railings' in London with Howard, a song he had written on piano on one of the cassettes. Chad, Andie and I recorded the backing track to 'Railings' using Howard's chords he'd used on the cassette demo. He came down to the studio to do the vocals, and we recorded them with all the studio lights down to get the right atmosphere for the song."

With songs like these, it's clear to see why Mansun fans still regard the group's B sides to be better than the tracks that most bands were releasing as singles. The album 'Six' followed in September 1998, aptly making number 6 in the album charts. Although it baffled critics and fans upon its release, it has gone on to be a cult classic. After their third album 'Little Kix' and a half-finished fourth record, Mansun split in 2003. All members of the band disappeared from the music scene, and Draper would finally re-emerge over a decade later.

Following his long awaited return to the music world in 2016, and his acclaimed debut solo album 'Spooky Action', Paul Draper hits the UK later this year for a special, intimate acoustic tour. As well as songs from 'Spooky Action', he will be playing Mansun classics and rarities in addition to previewing brand new material from his next LP. Info can be found HERE.

Meanwhile, an exemplary reissue of Attack Of The Grey Lantern was released last month, reaching number 28 in the UK album charts and number 2 in the vinyl charts. You can pick up a stunning purple vinyl edition of the LP, or the lavish 3CD and DVD deluxe package, which features a 72 page book containing an in depth look at the making of the album. A similar treatment will also be given to 'Six' at some point in the future, with remastering work currently underway.

David Morales presents The Face - Needin' You
A massive club hit from David Morales. When I first heard it, I thought it was simply a remix of the Spearmint song 'A Trip Into Space', a fantastic indie pop single which was released earlier in the same year, and a big favourite of mine that summer. However, it turned out that both tracks were coincidentally based around a sample of the little-known 'Let Me Down Easy', a 1976 song by Rare Pleasure. Listen to and read more about the Spearmint track HERE. Below is the video of 'Needin' U', as well as the full length Club Mix. 

Moby - Honey
This went to number 33 in the UK singles charts. In just a few years, the New York-based musician Moby jumped from techno to ambient, to punk rock and then to a kind of breakbeat-infused electronica on his fifth album 'Play', which would surface the next year in 1999. Heavily sampling a number of old blues records, its style could maybe be typified by the funky, infectious 'Honey'. Moby's 15th album 'Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt' was released earlier this year in March.

Airscape - Amazon Chant
This sublime bit of ambient-flavoured trance was released 20 years ago back in August 1998, reaching number 43 in the UK singles chart. The beautifully progressive 'Amazon Chant' was the work of Belgian producers Johan Gielen and Sven Maes, who had two other Top 75 entries in the UK. Gielen has been the project's only consistent member, forming Airscape in 1993. A recent single 'Inner Love' was released this year.

Storm - Storm
Number 32 in the UK charts. One of many classic tracks released on legendary dance label Positiva. Probably best known in mainstream terms for the 2000 hit 'Time To Burn', Storm was the alias of Markus Löffel and Rolf Ellmer, better known as Jam And Spoon.

Electrasy - Morning Afterglow
When it comes to big, emotional Britpop ballads, it doesn't get much better than this sublime, underrated single from Electrasy. It's exactly the sort of thing that people were crying out for Oasis to come up with at the time, yet when it was one of the less publicised bands, it fared less well. Although number 19 wasn't a bad chart position from a relatively unknown new group. It always reminded me a bit of Wet Wet Wet, but don't let that put you off. 'Morning Afterglow' was one of three Top 75 entries for the Dorset band, who formed in 1994. The song was taken from the debut album 'Beautiful Insane'. They would record two more albums before splitting in 2002. Guitarist and songwriter Nigel Nisbett is now a solo artist.

Faithless - God Is A DJ
A club classic, and cathartic celebration of music's power. It reached number six in the UK singles chart, and was taken from the group's second album Sunday 8pm. Faithless recorded six albums, with total sales exceeding 15 million records worldwide. They split in 2011, but reunited in February 2015 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band. They have played live shows since, but haven't released a new LP since 2010.

August 1998 also featured album releases including Theaudience's self-titled debut, Babybird's classic 'There's Something Going On', The Supernaturals 'A Tune A Day', UNKLE's 'Psyence Fiction', Fun Lovin' Criminals' '100% Colombian', Graham Coxon's 'The Sky Is Too High', and The Divine Comedy's 'Fin De Siecle'.