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Need music to do the washing up to?

During the teenage years of most boys, there is a glorious period where you discover that cutting greasy long hair is more trouble than it’s worth, dressing smartly is for idiots and heavy music is the absolute dog’s bollocks. If you happened to pick up an instrument during that period, playing with feeling and subtlety is a non-entity; you want to play it as fast and as loudly as you can, forgoing accuracy for liquid shred. Much to your parents’ consternation, that probably involves playing Slayer’s War Ensemble in your paper thin walled room for five hours straight, channeling the machine picking spirit of Jeff Hanneman through your wasp in a bottle combo of Encore and Kustom.

For heavy music, while obviously divisive (what a terrible racket), is the guttural primal roar of highly energized sound. For me, there is nothing more which invokes the emotion of ‘AAAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH BANG MY HEAD RUN AROUND ARRRGGGHHH WHERE HAS THE CONTROL OF MY FUCKING LEGS GONE WINDMILLS’. That, or simply the slow lurch of your body up and down. The love comes from the screaming and sometimes incomprehensible vocals; high pitched yelping; abrasively distorted guitars with the mids sucked out; the frighteningly fast octopus limbs of drummers; the vastly reduced role of the bassist, who has to make up for their diminished nature by yelling obscenities into a microphone while contorting their body constantly, reminding everyone they still exist on the stage.

young-metal-head

I love this stuff, and if you are undecided or so far oblivious, let’s have a stab at providing you with some metallic brilliance.

Let’s begin with a little US band called Look What I Did. These guys are sick – not in the bodacious spring break variety, more in the head generally. But dear me did they make some music that buzzes around you like an overactive teenager. Their lyrics can be quite tongue in cheek, or challenging depending on your viewpoint (‘I’m a domestic abuse machine baby’), but for what they lack in lyrical finesse they more than make up in fantastically inventive music.

I’m Majoring in Psychology, taken from their second album Atlas Drugged, is pure madness – double bass blasts at 0.42, THAT RIFF at 0.51. Get on it. Loudly.

Another wee band of Yankees, Into The Moat are more of your stereotypical sludge fest. Singing that would rip the vocal cords out of any normal citizen, with heaviness that knows no bounds. This will severely test you (I mean, it’s called Dead Before I Stray), but it’s utterly worth it. There’s even a bit of jazz in there at 0.55 and 1.21.

Back in the heady days of the early noughties, when one could flick between MTV2, Kerrang and Scuzz for hours at a time consuming music videos of varying quality, my teenage self scornfully cast Slipknot aside as the scourge of the music industry: fully grown reprobates playing terrible nu-metal in stupid jump suits.

But then they released Volume 3: The Subliminal Verses and all was forgiven. They are, in actual fact, supremely talented scary bastards. With this, I came to reassess their back catalogue and found greatness in their noise. One track that will always rev me up like a horny pitbull is Three Nil. There’s only so much brutal meatiness one band can serve up…..Joey Jordison’s incredible drumming for the intro and lovely count in from Corey Taylor, the break your neck riff at 0.37, the half time second verse from 1.46, the bloody drum outro from 4.32! The cheeky tinkle of the cymbal at 4.42! What are you doing to me?!

In my much mulled over but fairly consistent top five music things, The Beatles sit neatly at the top. Slotting in below them is SikTh, with their two albums worth of mind blowing genius. I cannot really express how much of an impact this music had on my young impressionable ears. At first, I was dumbfounded and a little scared, as I could not make head nor tail of it. I listened to it again, still no sense could be made. What the hell are they are squawking about? Do they know what a chorus sounds like, or how long a typical bar is? After maybe my tenth straight listen, the tiny jigsaw pieces of my shattered brain were jammed together and thus, my adulation of SikTh began.

I’ve always had a particular soft spot for If You Weren’t So Perfect, given the blaring intro, verses of guitar harmonics over Dan Foord’s bonkers drumming and a perfectly jarring chorus, consisting of inventive dual vocals and switching rhythm, merging into ascending slides and clever bass drum work from 1.13.

Now, I could have ended on a classic Pantera song. Or maybe some Binge and Purge era Metallica. Oh how sorely tempting it is. But right now, though likely to change come tomorrow morning, my choice of song to unashamedly bulldoze you into the next hemisphere is this: Forest by System Of A Down. PLAY.IT.LOUD.

Enjoy!

 

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Hot damn

Occasionally, when I sit down and write this blog, I will feverishly type away about the music by attaching it to a relevant side story or angle with the faintest whiff of creativity. Alas, or perhaps luckily if you’re a half empty kind of person, this is not one of those times.  On this occasion, it is simply to alert the good folk who stumble upon my deliberations that there are a couple of VERY DECENT compilations out there that I’ve recently purchased. Perhaps you should think about doing the same.

bayfunk

These gems are respectively known as Bay Area Funk II and Street Sounds From The Bay Area: Music City Funk & Soul Grooves 1971-75. The key word here, is ‘ bay’.

In the red corner, representing Bay Area Funk II, we have Devil’s On The Run by Uptights Band. I mean, what more do you want? How can anyone with a curious mind and sane persona not get on with this punchy number? Intro? Bam! It’s right there before you’ve even had time to adjust. The dual guitar playing is something else, trading off sweetly picked lines with quick sliding chords to land on a chorus of fitting wah. Strangely, both guitars sit in the left channel, but it bloody works so who cares?

Tag teaming in, Stop Look Listen! by Primevil sits back in its groove while delivering raw vocals.

In the blue corner, we have Street Sounds From The Bay Area: Music City Funk & Soul Grooves 1971-75. Throwing a heavy right hook to the face, we have Stop Telling Me by The Two Things In One. Does the hyperlinked article even refer to the right band? That doesn’t matter. What does matter is the vocal melody over that uplifting chord progression, coupled with the breaks at 0.42 and 1.02.

Well, that should give you enough food for thought, if not your feet, for the time being.

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.

raymond-scott-clav

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!

Everything eventually moves south

As I approach the ripe old age of thirty years on this planet, tiny molecules of doubt have started to fester in my psyche. They jostle around, largely ignored, but slowly come to the fore with each day that passes; the fear that I have begun my descent into middle age-dom, my musical tastes irreversibly damaged.

I suspect most young people hold this fear, the unknown date of when your brain becomes chemically unbalanced and you decide that tucking your t-shirt into your jeans is not only better looking, but wholly practical. The day that you decide you should wear hiking boots for every social occasion, rather than just when climbing a mountain. The day when you’d rather listen to the Archers than Gilles Peterson. In my case, deciding that early Rolo Tomassi is just a little bit over the top (what was I thinking in my younger days, my word!) and wouldn’t I rather listen to some placating Joe Bonnamassa?

Two events have recently spiked my self awareness of decrepitude. First off, I had the enjoyable experience of seeing my friend’s band, Mt. Wolf, play a set of their highly polished, superlunary music at Oslo this week. It was very much a ‘cool’ event, having appeared in Time Out as one of the week’s must see gigs. Now, I’m not saying I even belonged there in the first place (though I can’t remember a time when my street credit was this unbelievably high), but it did make me wonder at what point would I no longer fit into the crowd of fashionable youths.

The second event was the purchase of Theo Croker’s latest album, Escape Velocity. Upon sampling the sounds of Croker’s new release, I instantly had the uneasy feeling of whether this was on the cusp of funky lounge jazz………even writing ‘funky lounge jazz’ has just sent an unpleasant shiver down my spine. The kind of music that you inoffensively tap your foot to, enjoying the sensation of nothing breaking any boundaries.

Having listened to the album for an entire week, I have come to the conclusion that this is the right side of generic; a happy mover with a subtle gritty production. It sits back in the groove with interesting and brain imprinting melodies, encompassing electronica and world music, not fading into flavourless mush that I imagine horrible jazz funk would.

Not every track is a winner (It’s Gonna Be Alright is irksome) and some insipid elements creep in, but tunes Transcend (0.32-1.04), This Could Be (1.04-1.35), In Orbit (1.35-2.05), The Right Time (2.35-3.11) and Love From The Sun (6.00-6.30) really are bloody excellent. Unfortunately, I could only source the above album sampler, but I would recommend with no hesitations buying this album for a proper play through.

Perhaps no one will agree with my view of this album and I really have descended into my forties far too early. Perhaps ignorance is bliss.

Enjoy!

So much choice, so little time

Seeing as you’re lucky enough to be reading this, I’ll let you in on my trade secrets behind sourcing music.

photo-21

So, which sophisticated and elaborate method do I reveal first?  Let’s see now…..there’s the old trawling through magazines technique. We have the tried and tested method of scouring record label websites. A stone cold favourite – clicking on the ‘Related’ section of the iTunes store. Has anyone heard of Songkick?

As you can see, highly original and groundbreaking stuff which, in all honesty, has served me well. However, it has come to my attention that I have potentially been going about my leisurely business like a prime chump. Lo and behold, Bandcamp Discover has opened up a whole new world to me.

You pick a genre, then a sub genre, and off you go into an overwhelming selection of signed bands, unsigned artists, amateur groups, bedroom virtuosi, one man/woman crusades, and so forth. And the price of this? With the age of ‘pay what your mood dictates at that exact point in time, dependent on weather, respect for the industry and general moral upbringing’ truly upon us, you can get away with paying two pennies for an album of certified goodness.

Let’s take ART the Band, hailing from Toronto. Though they require you to fork out a bit more than the 67p you accumulated over six years in your long forgotten 0.3% savings account, it’s still a bit of a steal for some furiously fun music. Snippet tracks Connor Made Housecake and Dinosaur Factor sit opposite each other, dragging you between a comfortable rut of a groove and technical aptitude. Tokyo Sexwale is exactly what its name implies.

 

Mr. Moods, of Laval, Quebec, plants their music firmly in the ‘name your price’ section, so this literally is a steal. Bringing to mind Bonobo, Mr. Scruff and Clifford Gilberto, Jazz Reinvented conjures a soothingly dirty charm using its crackly electronica jazz.

 

Enjoy!

Early year splurge

Well well well, thus far, 2016 has been a good start for additions to the music library. Albums released in the latter part of last year that have inexplicably escaped my attention to recent offspring from bop heavy joy bringers. If I may, I’d like to share those that have recently tantalized my aural senses.

empirical old street

Released in the past couple of days, it is safe to say that Empirical’s Connection is an album that I have been longing to hear since their week long residency at Foyles Bookshop on Charing Cross Road last year. This coming week, the group will be performing out of a pop up jazz lounge in Old Street Underground Station (details above), no doubt confusing the bleary eyed rat race participants with an 8am show. Empirical are everything that is right about jazz: graceful fluidity, unconstrained imagination and volume in warmth. Connection is no different, veering from haunting to filthy swing in an instance. God I love this band; be sure to catch any one of their multiple free performances this week!

A different form of intelligence, Field Music have returned with an album chock full of what they do best: edgy funk with sweet melodies, laced with clever touches and subtle layers of instrumentation. I could not imagine Commontime being out of place for any occasion.

Little known Oakland outfit Feed Me Jack released their latest EP, Ultra Ego, earlier this year. It represents a band honing their already identifiable sound, fine tuning their music by clearly illuminating the basis of each song amidst the variety of directions they pull you in. Put Audio Pono on and ease back, you’ll need to have reclined when you reach 1.22.

 

Released late last year, Astronautilus is Get The Blessing’s fifth studio offering. And with this track, Monkfish, they hark back to their oh so glorious roots. I challenge you to not feel engaged with this snappy number.

 

And finally, I’m going to be a bit bloody naughty and post my own band Corybantic’s muzakical deliberations. We released a mini EP this year and………..I make no further comment. It’s there if you’re interested.

 

Enjoy!

 

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!