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Category Archives: Alternative

This is it!

I’m a little bit drunk, which, to be honest, I hope I would be after having undergone an entire month of being dry. It was a pleasant period of time, one where even the vaguest remnant of alcohol was banished from my very being. However, here I am, about to splurge uninhibited; the shackles have been cast and I have an overwhelming feeling to wax lyrical about the greatness of the following music which has recently come to my attention.

 

I’ve already shared this EP release numerous times on the book of face, but I must preach about its greatness once more. In particular, the track Equations For A Falling Body by Monobody. I can’t get this bloody track out of my head. It literally starts as if you’re falling down the stairs; not at the stage of even thinking about beginning to topple over whilst stood at the apex, no no no, but head over heels, bowled over but yet to hit the first step. Whilst your body is crumpling at the impact of your frightful staircase episode, take a moment to listen to the interplay of the instruments: the guitar’s cascading nature, the piano’s stabs, the phenomenal drumming. Everything about the first thirty seconds of this song makes me want to hyperventilate.

 

1.34, what’s the piano doing? Wait, it’s stopped (1.42); tell a lie, we carry on. A change of direction at 1.58, the bass drum accentuating the forceful rhythmic beat. Oh Christ, what’s going on from 2.43? Computer game antics at 2.52 to 2.54. It rises, and rises, and rises, and rises further. The drums roll, the delayed guitar kicks in; I begin to have tears in my eyes at 3.41, at which point ‘buh buh, buh buh, buh buh’ signifies the perfect crescendo (the guitar lovingly maintaining the same note whilst the piano/bass have other ideas). And…….BOOM! You’ve reached a perfect circle, the intro replays to close on a flourish. And that ladies and gentlemen, is why I love music so. Its construction can take you places that no other form of art really dares to. A controversial statement perhaps, but I’m a mere mortal so give me a break.

Well, I’ve exhausted myself on the above. Let’s carry on with the rest of the grand music to reach my lugs.

Bueno by Morphine. If there’s one out of many, many a reason to start watching The Sopranos, this could be a clincher (if you forget the supreme acting and masterful storytelling). But in all seriousness, this is a dirty track that deserves your attention, driven by the inescapable fact that a sliding blues riff coupled with an abrasive sax and low end crooning digs its claws deep into your consciousness. Who needs guitar anyway?

Moving swiftly on, we have the dreamy tones of Lonnie Liston Smith. I think I heard this in the delicious Piebury Corner.  It was a most welcome accompaniment to my jerk chicken and porter pie.

And finally, where would life be without some Bach? To close, the ever lovely, ever elegant counterpoint of Concerto For Two Violins in D Minor: Vivace.

I’m going to be hungover this morning……………enjoy!

Writer’s block

So, a new year has begun. The droopy and rather sad looking tree has been triumphantly thrown out, the decorations torn down with relish and the familiar routine of one’s dreary life is now back in full swing. Joy to the world.

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For those of you lucky enough to have never met me, I play guitar. I’ve always loved it and it brings me joy. However, the beginning of 2017 seems to have brought a problem of mine to a head: I’ve lost a fair amount of interest in playing the stupid guitar, an exceedingly frustrating and mildly terrifying feeling. Previous excitement has been replaced with indifference, the urge to craft a new song booted out by a lackadaisical attitude stifling creativity. As I reflect on it, writer’s block and feeling bereft of inspiration may be a key contributor to my troubles. What can one do? It’s been far too many months now of regrettably picking up a guitar.

My solution, one which I will relentlessly use until the good times return, is a combination of bulking up my music collection and thoroughly scouring it for hidden gems, in the hope it stirs my brain and thus translates to my fingers. Without further ado, this is what has been piquing my interest…..

I need to send The Math-Rock News a Christmas card this year, for they have delivered to me Sauna, an Argentinian group that I have instantly fallen for. Let’s be clear, I would not consider this to be a math-rock band; it is pleasantly written, smile inducing and very accessible nu-jazz, incorporating world music and Latin leanings with the twists and turns of what has become known as ‘math-rock’. Corazón de Manzana, the opening track of their debut self titled album, is on constant repeat in our household. From the opening tinkling of the ivories, gradually gaining pace with support from the bass until the drums roll in, the loveliness is all encompassing. Though not the first time to be used during the song, the guitar playing in unison at 1.14 is a deft touch and accentuates the passage wonderfully. The nod to the world of math would be the 7/8 outro from 2.24. And perhaps best of all, it rounds off at a very short 2.54 minutes, therefore leaving no excuse to give it a whirl in its entirety. If you couldn’t already tell, I’m in love.

The folk musings of Dory Previn, complete with strings, swaying melody and brilliant lyrics (hand crocheted!) on The Lady With The Braid, is something I’m very glad I stumbled upon in the depths of music passed on by friends. A story to be listened to, preferably while sinking into your favourite chair.

From soothing to crushing in one fail swoop, we have Burnt By The Sun. Deep down in everyone’s soul lies an innate appreciation for metalcore, you just know it’s true. Any other type of singing just wouldn’t fit with such abrasive music; it therefore works very well for what it is trying to achieve. Even if you look past the vocals, Soundtrack To The Worst Movie Ever has what all heavy instrumentation needs: riffs x 100 and impeccable, high energy drumming. Straight from the off, we’re chugging along (and not in the crappy gallop of Iron Maiden I hasten to add), moving to an almighty breakdown at 0.51 with accompanying harmonics. From 1.10, it becomes really juicy, with the fleeting glimpse of 1.19 to 1.24 being the ultimate riff for an all out living room circle pit. 2.09 is the icing on the cake, a menacing and stalking section which brings the exhilarating experience to a close.

To close, we have Strobes. Essentially a super group of polymath heads, it’s confusingly charming. The product of Three Trapped Tigers, Troyka and Squarepusher’s band, catch them live at The Old Blue Last in February to work out how on earth they create such an off-kilter sound of funky guitars, frenetic keyboards and limb defying drumming on stage.

After this, I hope to gain some enjoyment from my wooden stringed thing……….enjoy!

Pick me ups

As the weather isn’t turning sunny side up until tomorrow, let’s have a few blazing tunes to perk up the weekend lunchtime.

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Raymond Scott is a bona fide genius. His jazz sweeps through you with supreme verve, the crackly warm tone of past production surely bringing a smile to your face.

Where did I first hear Raymond Scott? At the highly entertaining Perhaps Contraption’s recent gig at Rich Mix no less. Catch this fantastic London band when you can!

Vocal bliss is very much the driving force behind Amsterdam’s Floatmonki, but the underlying ‘polyrhythmic trip-jazz’ music is exceedingly fluent, seeking out those endorphins of yours. Long live Donna Van Dijck……..

They’ve shed two key members, and lost their more alternative style of writing, but White Denim can still pump out a fun time, bluesy psychedelic tune when needed. Catch them at the Roundhouse in October.

Have a lovely Saturday whatever you do!

Windy mcbindy

Ah Chicago, you have thrown up something great yet again. Aside from Maps & Atlases, and Billy O’Neal, we now have Monobody.

monobody

It’s nimble, tricksy, and bloody infectious. Peppered with little funk melodies, jazz interludes, and what could be Jazz From Hell outtakes; we have a winner.

Enjoy!

Keys keys keys

If there’s one thing I should be doing right now, it’s learning the piano. Not taking out the washing, not religiously checking my fantasy football team’s performance, not thinking I should probably get on with the traditional Sunday activity of ironing one’s trousers in preparation for work. I should be learning how to play that magnificent instrument.

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Unfortunately, two problems stand staunchly in my way: firstly, I don’t own one of the bloody things. Secondly, I’m inherently lazy. So, instead, I will celebrate the music that it creates. I may be covering trodden ground from previous blogs in some cases, but what’s the harm in that? Additionally, I’m going for a shot to the arm rather than poignancy.

Over the year of 2015, I have embarked on an absolute Prokofiev binge, purchasing his catalogue in healthy doses. One piece that particularly sings to me is this, the shortened Vivace piece of the fourth piano concerto in B flat. It is completely masterful, never taking a moment’s breath as it flutters through your ears; I can but exhale in deep satisfaction once it has finished.

Picking a single Neil Cowley tune is a hugely unfair task, but the mammoth We Are Here To Make Plastic neatly sums up his outrageously versatile playing style. Just ensure you make it to 2.44.

Ah, Erroll Garner. You absolute beast. Live jazz piano that will bring you out in goosebumps.

It’d be rude not to tip the hat to a wee bit of ragtime, and this Alexander Peskanov version of Scott Joplin’s classic Maple Leaf Rag is a joy to behold.

As is Morton Gunnar Larson’s turbo charged version of Jelly Roll Morton’s Finger Breaker.

Well, I could go on, and I will with those Japanese tinklers mouse on the keys. Plateau is nothing short of a roller coaster.

My favourite piano piece of all time? As stated in a previous blog, Polonaise in A flat major, op. 53 ‘Heroic’ by Frédéric Chopin, played by Vladimir Horowitz. Majestically wondrous and awe-inspiring, I don’t believe it will ever bore me.

Enjoy!

Library additions

Earn money – spend money – tune abundance.

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American heavyweights Battles have served up their third album, La Di Da Di, following what seems like an eon since Gloss Drop. Though their music has noticeably failed to reach the heights of debut album Mirrored, what they lack in melody and cohesion is swept away by the superb drumming of John Stanier.

So while we have this……

…..it unfortunately does not quite live up to this.

Nevertheless, the new album is worth a good listen.

Purchased just this second from those good people over at Cuneiform Records, Le Rex are living Swiss proof that a string free society could be a good thing.

With their full length debut album, A Beautiful Life, out this winter, Let’s Talk Daggers have very quickly become a favourite of mine; I await the album with hyper eager anticipation. For people who enjoy simplicity.

Should you wish to help them out by pre-ordering their album (always a good thing), there is a very short amount of time with which to do so: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/letstalkdaggers

Arrivederci.

The dull and the downright dazzling

In the past week, I have been on somewhat of an album splurge. Here is what I’ve accumulated.

Yes! What an opener to an equally exceptional album. Spanky Wilson & The Quantic Soul Orchestra really need no introduction, producing the bass heavy and brass looping ditty I’m Thankful (Part 1), with delicate guitar and THAT voice.

The subject of my first ever blog, Field Music released their latest offering, Music For Drifters, only yesterday. Having had the pleasure of witnessing the album in its entirety live at the Islington Town Hall back in 2013, the Brewis brothers have laid down on record their instrumental soundtrack to the seminal silent documentary Drifters. As ever, it serves to demonstrate the breadth and intelligence the duo possess when composing.

Also officially released yesterday, Creation (East L.A.) from Quantic presents The Western Transient is a world feast. I have been told by a chap who I hold in very high esteem that the track is a ‘bit dull’…………I would argue otherwise.

There seem to be a few versions kicking around of this fantastic tune (the Planet Records Archive, Vol 1 cut I cannot seem to find), but this slower version of Perpetual Langley’s Surrender packs just as much punch. The vocal is simply wonderful.

And finally, also the subject of one of my previous blogs, Quopern by Sax Ruins has undeniable and unbridled joy in its main motif. Typically of the duo, it veers off into mind melting territory, perhaps not one for the soothing of a headache. Still, it’s bloody good.

Enjoy!