After the impressive self-titled and Scott Joplin’s Piano Rags EPs and last year’s split 7” with Liverpool’s Mugstar, Energy Czar arrives as Hunting Lodge’s first full-length. It’s often a hard transition from gig to record with bands like this, where the appeal is in the noise and chaos which seems bound up in its performance in the intense live situation. The EPs had done alright but the band seem now to be both noisier and crazier than ever, so how’d they do? Short answer: they did well, it’s an album as messed up as necessary. Long answer: read on.
When I first heard The Advantage it put me in one of the greatest moods ever and I couldn’t help but listen to it non-stop for a couple of weeks with the biggest grin on — their self-titled debut album is one hell of a good-time soundtrack — but the fun does not stop there — they’re back with a new record and this time its got a better name! The Advantage have set it their mission to record every Nintendo game theme and on their first record they offered 26 pieces — with various levels/stages and start/end music from 20 different games. This time around the album is shorter, only 16 tracks, but it’s just as good, if not better.
There is a no nonsense, unpretentious spirit throughout this record. It sounds like it’s recorded ‘as live’ in the main as most songs segue from one into another — but not in a smooth way — as new songs crash in on a drum roll or guitar solo. The album starts with four in-your-face bursts of Hawkwind-style R&R, culminating in the relentless and superb “Lightbringer”.
Babar Luck’s music exemplifies the ethnic diversity of East London and London itself with its sound that is rooted in British rock pop, the Beatles, Clash (without the punk) etc that invites snippets of reggae, eastern sounds and occasionally his Pakistani mother tongue. Central to the mix is Babar Luck’s voice, sounding sometimes like a less lush version of Finley Quaye but fairly sweet nonetheless, many of the songs here are word heavy and fuelled by religion and politics.
The Fucking Champs fit beautifully into an analogy involving some sort of ore or something — some natural, primitive mixture of rock and metal, and theirs is an awesome and relentlessly classic style. Back in December they came to England and played All Tomorrow’s Parties, and so there I made it my business to meet the band, who kindly agreed to answer some questions for me sometime. So a couple of months later I got hold of them and they did. And here’s what they said.
Mixing Kraut-rock and Canterbury Prog, Sixties beat and Gallic pop, alongside other styles like lounge, drone, jazz and soul, Stereolab have been creating their unique blend of luscious balladry and upbeat, arty-indie experiments for the last fifteen years or so. And to my knowledge they’ve never actually made a record which isn’t both incredible easy to listen to and also just a joy to. Unsurprisingly, Fab Four Suture is no different.
This band are called Celebration for a reason — Celebration is a freak-out cabaret record, but with that underlying hint of cold and darkness which typifies most of record label 4AD’s output. The band is made up of vocalist/percussionist Katrina Ford, drummer David Bergander and multi-instumentalist Sean Antanaitis. Ford and Antanaitis have been playing in bands together since their schooldays — some may have heard of their previous groups Jaks or Lovelife — but they feel that this is the band they’ve been waiting and looking for.
This release is the debut solo album of John Maus, affiliator of Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, and key member of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. The Upset! the Rhythm label that this is released through have championed the likes of Lightening Bolt and Deerhoof so its leftfield lineage is impressive. As a record this is solo in the (almost) purest sense — composed and recorded over 5 years entirely by Maus with two tracks performed with Ariel Pink. Maus’ biog describes this as his life’s work, which is a shame as frankly its awful.
You could always gain a quiet pleasure whilst listening to Dinosaur Jr. knowing that before they became the big college indie rock band of the late ’80s they were a speed Hardcore band. It’s a little like having a mate who’s generally the nicest guy in the world but to those who know him know that should provoked, he could be the evilest bastard imaginable. J Mascis, the longhaired lead guitarist of Dinosaur Jr. has just gone barroom himself with his latest project, Witch, which sees him return to his original weapon of choice – the drums – and a little closer to the hardcore sound that pre-empted Dinosaur Jr.
Calla is made up of Aurelio Valle, Wayne Magruder, and Peter Gannon and are now on their fourth album of skyscraping gloom-rock, Collisions, and this show was part of a short tour to promote it.
This 7” is a precursor to the forthcoming full-length Ships, offering the first chance to hear the new form of the former Danielson Famile. This new form, with it’s shortened name, is still based around lead singer Daniel Smith, but now includes all of the Danielson Famile and more. On this release the main “more” addition is from Why? — who produce the A-side track “I’m Slow But I’m Sloppy”, and whose guitarist Matt Meldon lends instrumental work on his 12-string. This is but a taste though of the highly-collaborative Ships, which also features other friends of the Famile like Sufjan Stevens, Deefhoof and Edith Frost.
After an effective collaboration with his brother Ehren on Lillian, Alias releases this 12” taster of work from the soon-to-be-released album of his newest collaborative work — this time with vocalist Tarsier (of Heelamonster and Tarsier fame). Concurrently with his native Anticon label, Alias moves further away from hip-hop on this release, the result being a relaxed slice of electronica/lo-fi dance recalling Lamb or Bjork, or his work with the Notwist’s Markus Archer.
After 2002’s untitled EP and then Purity Pledge two years later, London’s Todd have produced a new offspring, and this one launches itself right at your face, with broken shards piercing your ears. Their previous releases rocked but this is heavy as hell — but not metal, just quite a lot to deal with.
New releases on Warp Records will always have the benchmarks set by the label’s most forward thinking artists such as Aphex Twin and Squarepusher to live up to. Tonight Clark, having dropped his first name of Chris from his title as an artist, had the chance to show off new material from his limited edition EP Throttle Furniture ahead of a full album later this year and 65daysofstatic were showcasing their album from last year, One Time for All Time.
You might say they had a 5 year plan and you might be wrong because this two-discs worth of material containing three albums, an EP, John Peel Sessions and a live album, shows that they were all over the place. Whatever the theory, what characterises this whopping 64 tracks worth of material is a distinctive freshness to the feel of this album. Unlike a lot of bands today, Dan were a group of mates from Darlington who throughout the majority of their career, sound and appear to be in absolute disregard to any formal aesthetics or pretension of style to the extent that their not even one of those bands who you could tag as “not giving a fuck”.
Black Ox Orkestar are a fabulous entity fundamenatlly existing as a Jewish folk group and bringing back the powerful and often haunting moods and scales of old traditional forms, but reinterpreting or updating them to include other, perhaps more modern, influences. The group formed in 2000, and Nisht Azoy is their second album, following 2004’s Ver Tanzt, and continuing the same themes.
Manchester based newcomers Chase and Status display their stylistic versatility with a release seemingly tailor made for DJ Zinc’s Bingo Beats label. The title track “Druids”, is a FM inflected, Hazard influenced party piece, unpretentious in its melodic simplicity but brimming with dance floor appeal. Side B features “Believe”, an uplifting and soulful number, sitting comfortably on the heavy side of a liquid tip, but retaining an element of Chase and Status’ more rugged sound in the bass.
Once again, DJ Fresh (D.Stein) proves his unsurpassed production skills and ability to weave mammoth dancefloor monsters. Most certainly on a euphoric, parody tip, “The Immortal” blends electro funk samples, a throbbing, punchy bass, tongue-in-cheek vocals and gritty, distorted drums.
It may be a forgone conclusion that the imminent push of the group has been financially inspired by the success of other electro indie outfits such as The Killers and The Bravery, but never fear; there is nary an overpriced coiff (or indeed, in vocalist Bnaan’s case, hair to style) in sight. The production sandpaper has happily left a few rough edges, much to the album’s benefit, and the influences are candidly displayed with as much congruity as a Picasso painting’s facial arrangement.
The ‘my life is shit’ philosophy of the blues runs like a broken vein throgh the history of popular music, and particularly following the success of Kurt n Courtney’s primal screams, the industry has found profit in packaging/emphasising troubled individuals and their dark backgrounds. Unlike the faux-angst of Avril or Alanis, Jaed’s debut album documents a truly troubled adolescence of abuse, drug addiction and homelessness.
With the home recording in mind, the frequent sampling of opiate chanting and the various use of twinkling bells and tambourines, the mood is distinctively organic, the smell distinctively of joss sticks and used yoga mats. These intrinsic qualities both work for and against the album.
Birdpen are a rocktronica act who have recently expanded to a full band to give their live shows a bigger and fatter sound. Birdpen combine melancholic singing with spine-tingling acoustic guitar ambience, electronic orchestration and kicking percussive rapture to nourish and comfort the heart. With two eps under their belt, they have been receiving a lot of praise from critics, with many comparing them to The Beta Band. They have six dates in the south east of England coming up over the next few months so I caught up with Dave Pen to discover more.
Apparently, backstage these guys didn’t bring beer or amphetamines only a load of Willy Wonka chocolate bars. Gees it showed, whether it was through the guitarist’s hair or the oompa lumpah keyboards, this chocolate was refined.
Think Circus Vargas meets Sleepy time Gorilla Museum and the Tosca Tango Orchestra. This album is truly a rift in the daily atmosphere of copycat, non-daring redundancies. Full of odd time signatures, precisely orchestrated instrumentation and wild outbursts of spontaneity and chaos, this album is like an eerie trip through time and space. Melodies from the clarinet, trumpet, accordion and violin interweave and swirl until the listener is left with an abrupt halt or change. The packaging even features various pictures of the band members sporting porky pig masks.
This is a one-track, 41 minute live EP recorded at Galeria Ze Dos Bois in (unsurprisingly) Lisbon on 4th October 2005. It sees something of a change in delivery frow KFW’s usual OCD — the normal 3-year cycle of incessant editing and remastering of his last few releases has been eschewed for a straight-to-hard disk, as-is encapsulation of the KFW live experience.