Sunday 28 February 2016

Glenn Jones

As you join me, I'm nursing a large fennel tea to combat a dicky tummy. It's not my usual morning brew, but needs must. I've just read that Thrill Jockey recording artist Glenn Jones releases his sixth LP, 'Fleeting', in a couple of weeks. Glenn's music is a perfect fit for my current delicate condition, so enjoy the beautiful 'Bergen County Farewell' from 2013's 'My Garden State'.

Thursday 25 February 2016

Holy Fudge

Late in 2007, Canada's Holy F*** released their second LP (imaginatively titled, 'LP'), which contained a series of frantic, pounding slabs of noise that would go on to form a substantial part of my soundtrack for the following year. Mrs S & I saw them in concert in April 2008 - and they fair blew our socks off that night too. Sandwiched among the aural chaos of 'LP', is the, erm, lovely 'Lovely Allen', an epically catchy tune that, were it not for that moniker, would surely have gained them far wider recognition than it did.

There has been no new music from Holy F*** since their 3rd LP, 2010's 'Latin', but suddenly, out of the blue, they're back. One evening last week, with little fanfare, Marc Riley premièred 'Tom Tom', the first taster from a brand new album, 'Congrats', scheduled for release at the end of May. It's like they haven't been away.

Tuesday 23 February 2016


A small handful of 2015 albums found their way into my collection during the second half of December, too late for me to make an impartial judgement vis-a-vis their inclusion in my year end round-up. One of those albums was 'HiFi Classics' by Meatraffle, which, given a little more time to absorb it, would've made my 2015 top 20 without question. For starters, how can you fail to love a band who's line-up includes among its membership; Fats McCourt, Tingle Lungfish, Zsa Zsa Sapien and Cloudy Truffles? The genre descriptors that the band give their music are equally inventive, if not especially helpful; Trapdoor Jazz anyone? Speed Waltz? Or perhaps a little Erroneous Funk?

To give you at least some idea of what we're actually dealing with here, a few of the reference points that came to mind as I began to immerse myself in 'HiFi Classics' were; 'The Return of the Giant Slits', 'Bon Chic Bon Genre' by Campag Velocet, 'Pigeonhole' by New Fast Automatic Daffodils and 'Accept the Signal' by Regular Fries. Chuck that lot into a blender and you'll be heading in the vague direction of the uniquely wonky, cock-eyed view of pop that is Meatraffle's.

'Aurora' and 'The Horseshoe' are currently on particularly heavy rotation round these parts. If you like these, I urge you to check out 'HiFi Classics' in full here. It's a blinder.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Version City #52 - Mark Lanegan sings Pink Floyd

Mark Lanegan has excellent taste and knows his way around a cover version. If you don't believe me, check out his masterful reading of Gene Clark's 'Some Misunderstanding', which appeared in this very series a couple of years ago (here). Today's tune is a 2010 field recording of a haunting interpretation of Pink Floyd's 'Julia Dream', written by Roger Waters and originally tucked away on the b-side of their first post-Syd single, 'It Would Be So Nice', in 1968. 'Julia Dream' was the first Floyd song to feature a young David Gilmour on lead vocals.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Like a Ship Without a Sail

Not so long ago, this vintage 1971, privately pressed, slab of righteous gospel groove might have set you back two or three hundred pounds, but thanks to the good folk at Light in the Attic Records, the glorious 'Like a Ship (Without a Sail)' by Pastor T.L. Barrett and the Youth For Christ Choir is now widely available to all and sundry. I happened to start humming the uplifting melody of the title track whilst out on a bracing walk across the marsh this morning. So, what with it being Sunday and all....

Friday 12 February 2016

Yama Warashi

All eyes (and ears) are on Bristol this weekend, as several venues around the city play host to the 2016 BBC 6Music Festival. I've made a mental note of a few of the names I'm hoping to catch from the comfort of my laptop, though I'm disappointed to read that local boys BEAK> have had to pull out.

I'm not sure how well the Bristol music scene in general will be represented in the festival coverage, though hopefully we'll get to hear a little of what's going down in that neck of the woods. Japanese artist Yoshino Shigihara is based in Bristol for example, operating under the Yama Warashi moniker. Her sound is an intriguing melange of African influences, free jazz, psychedelia and Bon Odori, a traditional Japanese folk dance music. An EP, 'Moon Zero' is scheduled for March, from which 'No Face' is the first taster.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Strung Out In Heaven: A Bowie String Quartet Tribute

'Strung Out In Heaven: A Bowie String Quartet Tribute' is a digital EP, conceived and created by Amanda Palmer and Jherek Bischoff within the space of just two weeks, an admirable achievement under any circumstances. Tracks include 'Space Oddity', 'Heroes', 'Life on Mars', a gripping 'Ashes to Ashes' and a particularly fearless 'Blackstar', featuring Anna Calvi on vocals and guitar. Until March 5th, the bulk of the the proceeds from the EP's sales will go to the cancer research wing of Tufts Medical Centre in Boston, Massachusetts.

Read more about the project and recording here. Listen to/buy the whole EP here.

Monday 8 February 2016

Version City #51 - Charles Bradley sings Black Sabbath

I'm sorry if my presence around these parts has appeared a bit fleeting over the past few days. I seemed to achieve very little really, but somehow the week just ran away from me. One tune that did stop me in my tracks the other day though, was Charles Bradley's remarkable cover of Black Sabbath's 'Changes'. It's a song I know intimately from my days as a young, long-haired head-nodder, as the original appeared on my favourite Sabbath LP, 1972's 'Volume 4'. Bradley initially issued the song as a limited edition Record Store Day single in 2013, though has now wisely adopted it as the title track of his forthcoming album, scheduled for release in April.

Thursday 4 February 2016

Iggy Pop

The video contained within the previous post must rank as one of the weirdest oddities that I've ever shared. Today though, it's a return to serious business. A couple of weeks ago, Iggy Pop announced the impending release of his new album, 'Post Pop Depression', on Stephen Colbert's Late Show. 'Post Pop Depression' is produced by Josh Homme, who also plays on the album along with fellow Queen of the Stoneager Dean Fertita and Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys. On the night, the ad hoc band turned in terrific live versions of two songs from the record, 'Gardenia' and 'Break Into Your Heart'.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Maestro Ilaiyaraaja and S.P.Balasubrahmanyam

Several of my blogging buddies have expressed their understandable relief that a pretty rotten January 2016 has finally been consigned to the history books, a sentiment I echo wholeheartedly. To commence proceedings for February on a lighter note, here's a joyous clip from a 1981 Tamil comedy film entitled 'Ellam Inba Mayyam'. In it we see leading Kollywood actor Kamal Haasan lip-syncing and generally freaking out to the incredible 'Solla Solla Enna Perumai', a song written by legendary Indian composer Maestro Ilaiyaraaja with vocals by S.P.Balasubrahmanyam, a man who has allegedly recorded over 40,000 songs since 1965! One of the comments below this clip on YouTube reads, 'Disturbing, demented and life changing. A window into some forbidden realm between 70's funk and a near life threatening fever dream'. I couldn't have put it better myself! Surely Charlie Higson must have had this piece of film in mind when he created his Fast Show character Mikki Disco.

There are three volumes of Ilaiyaraaja's work available on Andy Votel's venerable Finders Keepers record label here, here and here.

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