Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Fixin The Charts: Top 50 of 2011

1) Destroyer- Kaputt
2) Fucked Up- David Comes To Life
3) Los Campesinos- Hello Sadness
4) Widowspeak- Widowspeak
5) Cloud Nothings- Cloud Nothings
6) Big Deal- Lights Out
7) Twin Sister- In Heaven
8) Youth Lagoon-Year of Hibernation
9) Mikal Cronin-S/T
10) Atlas Sound- Parallax
11) Tim Hecker- Ravedeath 1972
12) Slow Club- Paradise
13) I Break Horses- Hearts
14) Wild Flag- Wild Flag
15) Future Islands- On The Water
16) Richmond Fontaine- The High Country
17) Girls- Father, Son, Holy Ghost
18) No Joy- Ghost Blonde
19) Forest Fire- Staring at the X
20) Lia Ices- Grown Unknown
21) Wye Oak- Civilian
22) Pure X- Pleasure
23) Maria Taylor- Overlook
24) Say Hi- Um, Uh oh,
25) The Dears- Degeneration Street
26) Liturgy- Aesthetica
27) Handsome Furs- Sound Kapitol
28) Total Slacker- Thrashin’
29) Other Lives- Tamer Animals
30) Brilliant Colours- Again and Again
31) Julianna Barwick- The Magic Place
32) EMA- Past Life Martyred Saints
33) Fungi Girls- Easy Magic
34) Minks- By The Hedge
35) Bright Eyes- Peoples Key
36) Peaking Lights- 936
37) Thousands- The Sound of Everything
38) Grimes- Halfaxa
39) Dirty Beaches- Badlands
40) Braids- Native Speaker
41) Part Time- What Would You Say?
42) Thao & Mirah-S/T
43) Smith Westerns- Dye It Blonde
44) Craft Spells- Idle Labor
45) Little Scream- The Golden Record
46) Dark Dark Dark- Wild Go
47) True Widow- As High As The Highest…
48) 200 Years- 200 Years
49) Oneohtrix Point Never- Replica
50) Big Troubles- Romantic Comedy

Year in Review: November 2011

November 2011

1. Los Campesinos- Hello Sadness
2. Atlas Sound- Parallax
3. 200 Years- 200 Years
4. Oneohtrix Point Never- Replica
5. Blouse- Blouse
6. AA Bondy- Believers
7. Childish Gambino- Camp
8. High Places- Original Colours
9. Carter Tanton- Freeclouds
10. Gem Club- Breakers
11. Dan Michaelson- Sudden Fiction
12. Caveman- Coco Beware
13. Spotlight Kid- Disaster Tourist
14. Johnny Foreigner- Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everyone
15. Wax Idols- No Future
16. My Sad Captains- Fight Less Win More
17. Cass McCombs- Humor Risk
18. The Do- Both Ways Open Jaw
19. Steve Hauschildt- Tragedy & geometry
20. Odonis Odonis- Fight Less Win More

Year in Review: October 2011

1) Youth Lagoon- Year of Hibernation
2) Wild Flag- S/T
3) Future Islands- On The Water
4) Forest Fire- Staring At The X
5) Holiday Shores- New Masses For Squaw Peak
6) Mikal Cronin- S/T
7) Big Troubles- Romantic Comedy
8) Total Slacker- Thrashin’
9) The Strange Boys- Live Music
10) Zun Zun Egui- Katang
11) Mark Mcguire- Get Lost
12) Loch Lomond- Little Me Will Start a Storm
13) Witch Cult- S/T
14) M83- Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
15) Lights- Siberia
16) Darkness Falls- Alive in Us
17) Real Estate- Days
18) Still Corners- Creatures of an Hour
19) Blue Daisy- The Sunday Gift
20) Cuckoo Chaos- Woman

Year in Review: September 2011

1) Big Deal- Lights Out
2) Twin Sister- In Heaven
3) Slow Club- Paradise
4) Richmond Fontaine- The High Country
5) Girls- Father, Son, Holy Ghost
6) Cant- Dreams Come True
7) The Duke Spirit- Bruiser
8) The Horrible Crowes- Elsie
9) New Villager- New Villager
10) Teeth- Whatever
11) St. Vincent- Strange Mercy
12) Lanterns on The Lake- Gracious Tide, Take Me Home
13) Waters- Out in The Light
14) Mara Carlyle- Floreat
15) The Drums- Portamento
16) Peggy Sue- Acrobats
17) Nurses- Dracula
18) Zola Jesus- Contanus
19) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah- Hysterical
20) Jeff The Brotherhood- We Are The Champions

Year in Review: August 2011

August 2011
1) Widowspeak- Widowspeak
2) I Break Horses- Hearts
3) Pure X- Pleasure
4) Maria Taylor- Overlook
5) Other Lives-Tamer Animals
6) Brilliant Colours- Again and Again
7) Fungi Girls- Easy Magic
8) Stephen Malkmus- Mirror Traffic
9) Maria Minerva- Cabare Cixous
10) Pepper Rabbit- Red Velvet Snow Balls
11) The War on Drugs- Slave Ambient
12) Son Lux- We Are Rising
13) SWHRT- Compact Disc
14) Balam Acab- Wander Wonder
15) Her Space Holiday- Her Space Holiday
16) Gazelle Twin- The Entire City
17) Eleanor Friedberger- Last Summer
18) Wooden Shjips- West
19) Devon Williams- Euphoria
20) Young The Giant- S/T

Year in Review: July 2011

July was a slow month this year but still some hidden gems in amongst the shelves

Spotify Playlist to be added....

July 2011
1) Part Time- What Would You Say?
2) Chad Vangaalen- Diaper Island
3) Gardens & Villa- Gardens & Villa
4) Fair Ohs- Everything is Dancing
5) Unknown Mortal Orchestra- Unknown Mortal Orchestra
6) Copy Haho- Copy Haho
7) Washed Out- Within & Without
8) The Horrors- Skying
9) La Big Vic- Actually
10) Pictureplane- Thee Physical
11) Memory Tapes- Player Piano
12) William Elliot Whitmore- Field Songs
13) Little Dragon- Ritual Union
14) Crystal Antlers- Two Way Mirror
15) Night Beats- Night Beats
16) She Keeps Bees- Dig On
17) Zomby- Dedication
18) Dave Depper- The Ram Project
19) Gold Bears- Are You Falling in Love?
20) Fire With Jim O Rourke- Unreleased?

Year in Review: June 2011

Summer! Coming Home Blues! But The Month in which two of my favourite records of the year had the offical UK releases.

Spotify Playlist to Follow:

June 2011
1) Destroyer- Kaputt
2) Fucked Up- David Comes To Life
3) Handsome Furs- Sound Kapitol
4) Dirty Beaches- Badlands
5) Mechanical Bride- Living With Ants
6) Kindest Lines- Covered In Dust
7) White Hills- H-P 1
8) The Middle East- I Want that You Are Always Happy
9) The Men- Leave Home
10) Hong Kong In The 60s- My Fantoms
11) John Maus- We Must Become...
12) Secret Cities- Strange Hearts
13) Sons & Daughters- Mirror Mirror
14) Jolie Holland- Pint of Blood
15) Ice Age- New Brigade
16) Herman Dune- Strange Moosic
17) Blanck Mass- Blanck Mass
18) Tombs- Path of Totality
19) United Fruit- Fault Lines
20) The Grates- Secret Rituals

Year in Review: May 2011

From Chicago to LA to Seattle to Toronto and many in between...

The May Twenty is as follows:

May 2011
1) No Joy- Ghost Blonde
2) True Widow- As High As The Highest…
3) EMA- Past Life Martyred Saints
4) Love Inks- ESP
5) Julian Lynch-Terra
6) Smith Westerns- Dye it Blonde
7) Death Cab For Cutie- Codes and Keys
8) Wild Beasts- Smother
9) Thee Oh Sees- Castelmania
10) Austra- Feel it Break
11) The Antlers- Burst Apart
12) Cults- S/T
13) Woods- Sun and Shade
14) Bird of Youth- Defender
15) Bass Drum of Death- GB City
16) Weyes Blood- The Outside Room
17) No Babies- S/T
18) Royal Bangs- Flux Outside
19) Idiot Glee- Paddywhack
20) Hunx & His Punx- Too Young to be in Love

Year in Review: April 2011

In the month of fools and my journey from Georgia to Chicago, Here's the next installment of my twenty albums that rocked me through April...

Spotify Playlist available at: http://open.spotify.com/user/joefordy24/playlist/7yXChe3Dsd9Dc1qMxdq0Hp

1) Liturgy- Aesthetica
The Hipster's Death Metal Band as many dubbed them, but that didn't stop Aesthetica being a revolution of genre.

2) Thao & Mirah-S/T
Unlikely combo of mild mannered Mirah and punked up queen Thao, but the balance was intoxicating and demanded to be heard. Live Session from my favourite Radio Station in the world... KEXP

3) Braids- Native Speaker
Robbed of the polaris prize but the gigantic force of The Arcade Fire, Native Speaker is yet another example of how Canada is the country that is pushing boundaries in music right now.

4) Craft Spells- Idle Labor

5) Little Scream- Golden Record

6) The Raveonettes- Raven in The Grave

7) Dark Dark Dark- Wild Go

8) Metronomy- The English Riveria

9) Vivian Girls- Share The Joy

10) Moon Duo- Mazes

11) Colour Music- My ________ is pink

12) Sleepingdog- With Our Heads In The Clouds & Our Hearts In The Fields

13) Sarabeth Tucek- Get Well Soon

14) Memphis- Here Comes A City

15) Singing Adams- Everybody Friends Now

16) PS I Love You- Meet You at the Muster Station

17) Die! Die! Die!- Form

18) Cats Eyes- Cats Eyes

19) Cass Mccombs- Wit’s Ends

20) The Sandwitches- Mrs Jones Cookies

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Year In Review: March 2011

And onto March, the magical time of year for SXSW, where I saw some amazing people this year from, Chelsea Wolfe at Beerland, Murray Lightburn's birthday at the dears show for under the radar to secret cities in someone's backyard (won a raffle!) to bright eyes in the park. NXNE for me next year but March soundtracked the beginning of the journey around America.

Here's The Twenty and once again for you spotify fans out there... playlist of these 20 (and a lot more) as follows: http://open.spotify.com/user/joefordy24/playlist/4b7xZ3P0y9kbznYrvvCVdV

1) Wye Oak- Civilian
Wye Oak have always been a force to be reckoned with but finally public attention soared with the release of the Civilian... Amazing Live, Amazing Record, Amazing Band.

2) The Dears- Degeneration Street

Montreal's if not Canada's most underrated band, who have yet to release a disappointing album, so it's unfair to say the Degeneration Street is a return to form. But it is, capturing perfectly the grand live sound of The Dears. One of the best bands I saw at SXSW this year too.

3) Julianna Barwick- The Magic Place

No-one mastered the dreamscape sound better this year than Julianna Barwick.

4) Thousands- The Sound of Everything
Another overlooked gem!

5) Grimes- Halfaxa

Back to Montreal for the Hard to specify, Hard to Define, Grimes' noise pop was a true revelation of 2011.

6) Mother Mother- Eureka!
Hot pop from Vancouver, obviously with a wink to the New Pornographers (yes that good) with which they share clever pop hooks and huge harmonies. Really suprised they did not blow up in 2011. Those vocals kill me! So good! Below my song of the year...

7) Rival Schools- Pedals
Finally an example of a band reunion which excels beyond so many lame reunions. Pedals made Rival Schools hugely relevant in 2011, unlike many of the returning peers.

8) King Creosote & Jon Hopkins- Diamond Mine

The Mercury Nominated duo of King Creosote & Jon Hopkins created a Heart-Breakingly gorgeous debut which was robbed from victory.

9) The Dodos- No Colour

Another fine fine record from The Dodos, effortlessly brilliant as per usual.

10) Hype Williams- One Nation
Mind Blowing!

11) Naked On The Vague- 12 Dark Moons

Probably not quite an album, but any NOTV release deserves attention.

12) Sin Fang- Summer Echoes
Dazzling lo-fi pop from Iceland

13) Magnus Ostrom- Thread of Life

Love A Drummer, and Magnus Ostrom must be at the top of that list.

14) The Naked & The Famous- Passive Me, Aggressive you
Usually turned off when bands are subject to the buzz that naked and the famous were at the end of 2010, wasn't expecting such an impressive debut from them.

15) Erland & The Carnival- Nightingale

Another great album from Erland, released so quickly after 2010's debut.

16) Tom Williams & The Boat- Too Slow

Not a fan of the acts he's usually compared to (Mumford etc) but Tom William's got it just right with this impressive debut.

17) Akron/Family- S/T II
Even Akron at their average is still a excellent record by most band's standards

18) Brown Recluse- Evening Tapestry

Pretty confident Slumberland records does no wrong, named after a rather nasty spider... You'd be suprised at how Evening Tapestry is a shimmering array of the best pop of the year.

19) Kurt Vile- Smoke Ring For My Halo
Not nearly as good as you've been lead to believe nor even near the best record Vile has released, SRFMH was still a bold, brave statement from a stunning artist.
It's all got to start somewhere...

20) Brave Irene- Brave Irene

Rose Melberg. Legend! Brave Irene! Awesome!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Year in Review: February 2011

Day Two and we move on to the shortest month February, you'll notice there's no PJ Harvey on here, the winner of this year's Mercury Music Prize, its crazy i know!
Once again, for spotify users, most of these albums are on this playlist, plus other greats from the month of the groundhog.


1. Tim hecker- Ravedeath 1972

In a month of diversity, Tim Hecker's Ravedeath 1972 is the stand-out, beautiful and ornate, designed to be much more than an ambient album but a refreshing soundtrack to the most brutal and sad mundane small town movie. It's truly an adventure through a forgotten wasteland. Like Winter's Bone but without the heroine. No Video's I'm afraid but... give this a listen.

2. Lia Ices- Grown Unknown

Underrated gem of a record, sadly missed off critics end of years...

3. Bright Eyes- peoples key

Refreshing return for Oberst and Mogis' ever changing posse.

4. Peaking Lights- 936

Another Excellent release from Not Not Fun/Weird World

5. Gruff rhys- hotel shampoo

It's Gruff Rhys! Need I Say More!

6. Mogwai- hardcore will never die but you will

It's Mogwai! Need I Say More!

7. Trail of The Dead- Tao of The Dead

See Above.... It's Trail of The Dead

8. Ringo Deathstarr- Colour Trip/Sparkler

Austin's Finest, bringing back psychedelia in the right way. Bliss

9. The Babies- S/T

Member of Woods, Member of Vivian Girls, Simple Bratty Punk Rock better than both of the full time bands releases this year. Live from my favourite new york venue!

10. Yuck- Yuck

Pavement/Guided By Voices/Superchunk alt-rock rip-off, but they do it pretty well.

11. Telekinesis!- 12 Desperate Straight Lines

Great Indie Rock band on Merge (The Daddy of record labels) from Seattle.

12. The Luyas- Too Beautiful To Work

Toured With Blonde Redhead and on the equally legendary Dead Oceans

13. Papercuts- Fading Parade

Another excellent record from the still sadly unknown sub pop band,

14. Slug Guts- Howlin’Gang

Epic Australian Punk Rock who gnawed a massive hole in my skull at SXSW. for Fans of Birthday Party, Eighties Matchbox etc

15. Ghost Society- The Back of His Hands, Then The Palms

Lush Danish dream pop.

16. Dustin O Holloran- Lumiere

Another Epic Piano Genius.

17. Axxonn- let's get it straight

18. Harry’s Gym- What Was Ours…
In The Absence of Azure Ray...

19. Devotchka- 100 Lovers

Another Incredible album from the highly Talented Devotchka

20. The Rural Alberta Advantage-Departing

Canada + Saddle Creek = Super Awesome Good Time Yeah!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Year In Review: January 2011

Start My Year in Review with the month of the year that is always the most difficult to find new releases... mostly just a plethora of later bloomers of the previous year finally getting wider releases, but here's the twenty greatest records from the top.

Also if your spotify inclined, these albums and more are handily put together in a playlist for you: http://open.spotify.com/user/joefordy24/playlist/2EMOEb1dMP9DCH3CRiYwFi

Here's The 20.

1. Cloud Nothings- Cloud Nothings
Smart and intricate indie punk record from Cleveland's bratty genius Dylan Baldi, who kick started summer fun in the darkest month of the year, talented beyond his years and with so much more potential he is sure to be set to release another staggering album in early 2012.

2. Say Hi- Um, Uh Oh

3. Minks- By The Hedge

4. Apex Manor- The Year of Magic Drinking

5. British Sea Power- Valhalla Dancefloor

6. Tu Fawning- Hearts on Hold

7. Sun Airway- Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier

8. Lemuria- Pebble

9. Ruby Coast- Whatever This Is

10. Joan as Police Woman- The Deep Field

11. The Phoenix Foundation- Buffalo (UK Release)

12. The Joy Formdiable- The Big Roar

13. Reading Rainbow- Prism Eyes (UK Release)

14. Young Prisms- Friends For Now (UK Release)

15. The Go Team- Rolling Blackouts

16. Tennis- Cape Dory

17. Y Niwl- Y Niwl

18. Jeff The Brotherhood- Heavy Days

19. Selebrities- Delusions

20. Sic Alps- Napa Asylum

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Loch Lomond- Little Me Will Start A Storm

Oh the Irony! An American Band with a scottish name release an album on a scottish label. Mocking. Over.

Because Loch Lomond's SIXTH album "Little Me Will Start A Storm" is a startling statement of folk instrumentation dressed up in a pretty soaring package but much like a rotting onion, unpeel it's layers to discover something dark, unsettling and tear inducing. Although lazly compared to touring mates The Decemberists or Blitzen Trapper, their true soulmates are probably lost in the trees, like the North Carolina Troop, Loch Lomond are subtle and daring guaranteed to stop you dead in spite of whatever you are doing. Essentially a pop record which pulls no punches, "little me..." encompasses a range of perspective, point of view and a raw edge which proves that there is a lot more within the portland scene to be discovered...

Mikal Cronin- Mikal Cronin

If the Strange Boys isn't psychedelica enough for you, look no further than Ty Segall's "best friend" (made that up) and bassist/singer for the moonhearts.... Mikal Cronin, who's self-titled debut is a fully formed swaggering confident garage rock masterpiece.... Pitchfork described him as the Waylon Jennings to Ty Seagall's Buddy Holly, which is very clever indeed. But Cronin is very capable on his own merit, with an ear for arranging above and beyond Seagal, rushing from prog to garage to psychedelia to a longing introspection within mere minutes.
A joyous suprise!
Couple of Tracks from Cronin on his bandcamp (see below):

Class Actress- Rapprocher

I've been waiting so long for Elizabeth Harper's debut album proper that I'd almost forgotten about her entirely. Class Actress' EP Journal of Ardency (released in 2009) was a near perfect collection of electro pop gems obviously enchanted by the forefathers (and mothers) of 80's electro pop, as if written in seedy nightclubs despite a real longing to be accepted in the light of the day. The album Rapprocher totally fulfils on the EP's promise, Harper's ice cold vocals capable of charming the pants off anyone, radio friendly, innocent but extremely sexy.

Listen to this track from the new album called "love me like you used to"

The Strange Boys- Live Music

Austin, TX Sons The Strange Boys return with their new album "Live Music" after making me sweat from every pour in their hot as fucking hell show at SXSW. Be Brave was a stunner and Live Music is much of the same, one minute on the boil indie rock and roll, switching to some raw heartfelt balledry. In a sea of rock and roll fuzz, 'boys will make you boogie woogie (in a way Jools has never been able to), bounce up and down and then cradle you in a fashion that would make Kat Dennings proud.

Here's the opening track from their new record "Live Music" titled "Me and You"

Youth Lagoon- The Year of Hibernation

This one's been doing the rounds for a ages now... but Boise, Idaho's Trevor Power's pained and personal semi-ego Youth Lagoon is one of the autumn's most pleasant suprises...
The Year of Hibernation is about life and not in a grand existential way but in a general every day way, its about how the past makes the present, about how the present shapes us, it's mostly about a boy going to school, falling in love, falling out of love, most importantly the things people struggle to talk about, the things that haunt you in the middle of the night, the things that stop you from jumping out of bed first thing in the morning. It's the sort of record that you can only make when you havent been smashed by the dreams and realities of being a touring musician.
Like the best pop music, Youth Lagoon creates a dreamy etherreal cheerfulness on the surface with a haunting reality shining through the lyrics.
The Year of Hibernation is one for the end of the year lists... it certainly will be on mine.

Here is Montana with it's striking video:

Friday, 19 August 2011

The Top 20 albums (so far) of 2011 that you should listen to... Part 2

Braids- Native Speaker

An all to brief debut which tells of child like innocence without being naive, a flurry of photographic flashbacks accompanied by a lush sonic smear. Not too many debuts have been capable of combining so many compulsory feelings in one statement, visceral and blunt, longing and old super 8's.

Cloud Nothings- Cloud nothings

Cleveland golden boy Dylan Baldi is quite simply straight up power punk, a young cousin to Jay Reatard and Wavves, although more consistent, as this debut proper proves, from full on punk rock to some of the albums slower and more sensitive tracks, coulda been the soundtrack to the summer but instead kicked in some january anthems.

Minks- By The Hedge

Another gaze band they arent, Boston resident Minks seem to fit the captured tracks sound (tongue firmly in cheek blogsphere) with a reference to a pre-disintergration Cure, but the insanely creative side of By The Hedge is how they adapt and evolve as the album progresses... the only staple being the usual pop interest of the lyrics and the old basis of what came first the music or the misery.

Say Hi- Um, uh Oh

Eric Elbogen is one of the most underrated singer/songwriters in the world today, Um, Uh Oh is his SEVENTH record but also his most accomplished. It's soulful indie pop at it's finest rooted by some of the most longing songs of the decade. Not every track hits quite as hard as opener "Dots on Maps" or "Take Ya Dancing" But Elbogen remains one of the most vital performers you've never heard of.

Sore Eros- Know Touching

Effortlessly beautiful record which officially came out last year but fuck it! Kurt Vile, Atlas Sound and reel to reel come to mind, but it's spaced out melody are completley their own.

Y Niwl- Y Niwl

Best Surf record ever to come out of wales! says it all really!

Gareth Liddiard- Strange Tourist

Epic Storytelling from Drones Frontman, a slow slug of a record which pulls no punches!

Lia Ices- Grown Unknown

Lia Ices Grown Unknown is a smart pop record far beyond the aforementioned folky longings. There are many great female vocalists set to discover this year, but Ices outshines most of them from the simple glories to epic pop.

Tim Hecker- Ravedeath 1972

Explosive haunting noise explosion from Canadian legend Tim Hecker. Intense, storming and intoxicating.

Grimes- Halfaxa

Grimes is etheral and often atonal (a necessary part of her dream/nightmare lure) but Halfaxa's charm lies in the pop songs that leer underneath, like the hope that despite the horror, a happy ending is in sight...

No Joy- Ghost Blonde

I LOVE No Joy, the most authentic 80s/90s indie noise band... with a record mixed by Sune Rose Wagner (The Raveonettes), hidden vocals provide melody but simply as a part of the bigger picture ("you girls smoke cigarettes?") of static recalling guitars and lush ethereal supreme. A Kim Gordon reference would be unimportant...but she pathed the way for balls out girl fronted bands like this... while a nod to j macis sums up laura lloyd's live performance more than anyone else. Sonic Joy! and Hawaii has the most epic opening i've loved all year.

White Hills- H-P 1

Bands often talk about capturing an elusive "live sound" few ever do it... With their second album White Hills have nailed it... best heard through a shitty bar's violent PA, HP-1 is busy, noisy and nasty, although at times somewhat endless.

Secret Cities- Strange Hearts

their debut was beautiful... and they were one of my favourite bands at SXSW this year. in debt to the sixties flower power definitely but their playful realism always keeps on the ground. Secret Cities maintain a playful bounce with a melancholy march quite like no-one else.

Mechanical Bride- living with ants

Too long in coming, but Lauren Doss' debut is a beautiful affair which seems to be lost in the shuffle, but upstages silmilar female artists (Laura Marling, Bat For Lashes) which she herself pre-dates. Ultimately a clever and inviting warmth that few achieve.

Bearsuit- Phantom Forest
Bouncing all over the place (like they always have) Phantom Forest is the band's finest record if only because it's the sharpest and poppiest.

Julianna Barwick- Magic Place

If Tim Hecker nailed the intensity on Ravedeath 1972, Barwick nailed the Angela Carter nightmare fairytale with an explosion of idealistic vocals, bended within a nightmare. Truly a one-off experience.

Craft Spells- Idol Chatter
Knowingly nodding to it's 80's pop influences, Craft Spells talent lies in the necessary goods to back it up... never missing a moment or hook or geninue sensiblity to do more than just look back.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Top 20 albums (so far) of 2011 that you should listen to... Part 1

Everyone else is doing it so why shouldn't I... except I will not be mentioning PJ Harvey, Mogwai, Anna Calvi, Decemberists, Panda Bear et al, there's no point you would have heard them anyway and decided you loved them and most of the aforementioned left me cold or at least they were records that I didnt think were anyway near as strong as previous releases...
And there are also so many records to be released in the rest of 2011 which may eclipse a lot of these records... or hell I may relisten to one of these above and decide it's the best thing since Stephen Malkmus picked up a pencil who knows... But here are 20 records you should have heard this year... some you will have, some you wont. There's also a load that I won't mention here, mainly because Ive mentioned them before or will rave about them more later...

FUCKED UP- David Comes To Life

This Record has been raved about by pretty much anyone who has heard it and for those who didn't love it... they've been fitted with hearing aids and have now changed their minds. Fucked Up's opus was a marvellous, intriguing, brutal and beautiful discourse on love and misery. Reject all concepts you have of the band or of their prog hardcore sub-category, sit down with a bottle of whiskey and listen to this record with the lyric booklet wide open, no record this year will have any more of an emotional punch than David...
And this is the sort of school I want my children to go to...


Destroyer finally makes the record of his career with Kaputt, which sounds like a perfect pop record lost somewhere at the 80s synth pop peak with shades of the pet shop boys, spandau ballet and Haircut 100. Despite it's ear catching hooks, its also a sonically closed album with less going on than Dan Bejar's previous ventures. Bejar is an intriguing yet intelligently awkward figure enhancing Kaputt to a beyond beautiful, suggestive and insightful pop album encompassing an ambience far superior to many of the record's it shares traits with. I can guarantee that not many records do quite what this record is capable of... it's closer companion in my mind at the moment is Handsome Furs' incredible Sound Kapitol.


Sticking with Canada is Dirty Beaches' Badlands a creepy little lo-fi release, stylised and noirish nightmare rockbilly fused pop. Sparse instrumentation reminates around what sounds like a bad tape recording of an old 45 but Alex Zhang Hungtai's debut is an atmospheric beast which lead it to being longlist for the polaris prize earlier this year. Not for everyone's ears but an imaginative release which will leave you haunted beyond its short duration.

More Tomorrow....

Monday, 11 July 2011

The Horrors- Skying (XL Recordings)

Oh Hell Yeah! Another Beggars album this time from XL recordings and that band you used to hate The Horrors, Yes they are the same band that released Sheena is a parasite and played earlier tonight at a very intimate show in Dalston's shacklewell arms, Primary Colours was a huge step forward which revolutionized what many (if not most) people thought The Horrors could ever dream of, and Skying attempts to capitolise on that... It's not as huge of a shock as the previous albums but Skying harks to the likes of Simple Minds, Echo and the Bunnymen... but while being nothing new, the band certainly seem to be enjoying themselves...

First single Still Life below....

Zomby- Dedication (4AD)

It may have took you a long time... but now you've figured out where you were in 92... Zomby is back with a new full length album "Dedication" on none other than 4AD, talk about a mainsteam cross-over is redundant after the success of the aforementioned track but Dedication is a cross-genre, mixed bag of treats guaranteed to score highly on many critics picks of the years and like I always say do Beggars ever get it wrong?

Here's the first track to be sneaked from the album (out this week) featuring Panda Bear (Animal Collective- as if you needed me to tell you)

Handsome Furs- Sound Kapitol

Handsome Furs quite frankly get better with every album, basically because every album is stark ravingly different to the other. Sound Kapitol is the most stark release and this leading track displays, the band's most cold, brutal and lyrically explicit... The Band Head to Europe in September.... Looking forward to it.

Warning: Not for the faint-hearted

Handsome Furs - What About Us (uncensored) from Sub Pop Records on Vimeo.

Still Corners- Cuckoo

Based on this single alone.... Still Corners are a contender for album for 2011 


Widowspeak new single Gun Shy is a haunting 90s fuzz/soft rock gem, and the b-side... the cover that keeps on giving (Chris Issak's Wicked Game) perfectly suits Molly Hamilton's Mazzy Star-esque drawl. Widowspeak are the band quietly playing in the corner of some remote smalltown bar in the greatest surreal western never made.

Enjoy, The album is due to be released later in the summer...

Shimmering Stars- I'm Gonna Try

Love a bit of classic 50s inspired tortured love song vibe from canada, full length due out September 13th.... Hopefully over in the UK this summer too! 7" in Rough Trade this week!

Hoop Dreams!

Hoop Dreams are from Blacksburg, VA and the single "XCPR" hits the UK this week, joyous fuzzed up indie pop, that we've come to expect from Captured Tracks, but far surpasses all said expectations...


Monday, 27 June 2011

The Rider! (Based Upon my 10 years of working with bands)

Dear Promoters,
Me and my bandmates will soon have the pleasure of playing your venue/festival/university ball/village fair yadda yadda yadda. There are a few essential (although modest) requests that we politely need before we can become friends and of course play to our highest standards. I was a promoter in a past life so I know there’s a certain amount of toing/froing that we all need to do before we come to a middle ground to suit your budgets/our egos (but anything other than a jovial or helpful alternative will be dismissed as bad or boring “business practice” and hey we all got into this for a “bit of a laugh” right?)
The following are the aforementioned requests that I know you will be able to adhere to...
1)      A BUY OUT of £ 15 per head (for 10 people) or in house dinner...
I’m not a picky eater, I occasionally treat myself to a sizeable portion of cheesy chips after a long night at the pub. However we do not expect for this to be the case with the catering at ANY of our forthcoming performances. So let’s just rule out altogether Burgers/Fries/Pizza/KFC or any version of this. If the food is catered, please let it not be swimming in a pint of grease or simply be a glorified version of the following: Pasta with tomato sauce, Chilli, Baked Potato (although great as a side) or a lump of meat. Put a bit of time and effort into preparing it, think of it as an audition for come dine with me or dinner date, We will rate you out of 10 and report back to our manager/agent, If we do not approve we will suggest that the costings of said “food” be taken out of the final settlement. Alternatively, if a buy out recommend me somewhere nice- imagine I’m a hot babe that you really want to impress... Let it be said that I am not interested in Candles, Flowers or holding your hand over a three course meal but something that will not end up in a long flowing of faeces in a series of overused travel stops between your show and the next. This is much appreciated... A Sandwich does also not count as “dinner” no matter how “lovingly” prepared.
2)      ALCOHOL
Yes! It’s the staple of the “life on the road” diet and the whole point of pursuing a “career” in music is for a constant flow of alcohol (worked for my heroes Lemmy, Keith Richards and Motley Crue) and girls (but I’ll get to that later) so we require the following:
a)      Three Cases of HIGH QUALITY (Essential) BEER.
Read This as meaning NO Carling, Fosters or Carlsberg- Advertising Bullshit aside, none of these “beers” would ever win a “finest beer award” although potentially a “least disgusting drinkable piss” award could be on the cards should such a contest exist. No Offence if any of these companies are your sponsor, it’s not personal and deep down inside you know you agree!
b)      One Bottle of GOOD QUALITY (Essential) WHITE AND One Bottle of GOOD QUALITY (Essential) RED Wine.
We are all grown-ups, you know what I’m Talking about, Sainsburys, Tesco and Even Fucking ASDA do some really good deals... look for the Buy One Get One Free, Reduced By £2, 3 For £ 10 (Hell you keep the third...Our Tour Manager may question your integrity when he’s sees it missing from the rider when he goes through your receipts for the settlement but tell him I Said it was okay) but again, use your discretion, I don’t want no Lambrini or Crap Chardonnay and just because they drunk Black Tower in Big Brother 3 Doesn’t mean I want it on the rider. This is essential for various reasons, 1) There are girls in our band that simply “vomit at the taste of beer” (bullshit- but I pretend to care) so they NEED wine. 2) I’m also trying to prevent a certain band member who gets serious wind from drinking half a crate of even the finest of continental microbrews and I’m tired of waking up every morning smelling like an OAP who has shat themselves. 3) As a whole Girls Like Wine and I think we’ve discussed that already or are soon about to... Obviously if you have the luxury of having a wine cellar with the crème de la crème of vintage and fine wines then this will be appreciated but only expected if the show sells out.
c)       One Bottle of GOOD QUALITY Vodka (Not the kind we used to pay people to get for us from wine shops when we 14 that had the same consistency as nail varnish) One Bottle of GOOD QUALITY Whiskey (To me this is Jack Daniels, Jameson or Bushmills, I like to mix it with Ginger Ale/Lemonade... So I probably wouldn’t know if you got an empty bottle and filled it with basics but I trust you and know that without this you appreciate the show will suffer) Of Course if you have the luxury of having a large selection of Whiskey in your establishment I will take a shot of the most expensive one or a selection of a few in the higher ranges. Please Surprise us with One Other bottle of Spirits from your range (This should not include Sourz or Sambucca- Hate The Stuff!), Consider it your moment of creativity in an otherwise regimented system of “artist demands.” If we don’t like it then we’ll probably give it to the support(s) and as we all know most of them are happy as larry with 12 carlings, a case of water and a 6 pack of Walkers Crisps (Under no circumstances should that be our rider!) not like they have any choice anyway!   
d)      A Few Cans of Cider... I speak for one member of our band  who once paid $ 10 for a strongbow in the USA, yes it’s idiotic, but its along the same lines as those who “vomit at the taste of beer” except they will not consume either B or C... if you need any further justification for any inclusion of the previously stated, we will say we are allergic and could not possibly fulfil our commitments to play the event for it may lead to a trip to the hospital or at worse an untimely death.
e)       A Selection of Mixers To Include CocaCola (Official Brand ONLY Please, Yes I know they are evil, feed aborted monkey foetuses to third world countries or whatever, but It’s the only brand I like... preferably in Glass Bottles, but Cans or even a 2L at a push will have to do), Lemonade (I’m not really picky on this one, although NO Cloudy Lemonade, and obviously Sprite or 7UP would be admired and is likely to enhance our performance), A Selection of Juices (No Own Brand/One Step up from Own Brand, in an ideal situation you have freshly squeezed the oranges/apples/pineapples/cranberries  yourself earlier in the day and have lovingly prepared it in the same way you have our delicious dinner) and finally some Tonic (Schweppes) and Ginger Ale (Canada Dry). Of Course these are only guidelines and are suggested to provide a Five K/10 out of 10 performances for you, us and the people spending their hard earned money on your show. 
f)       Tea/Coffee/Milk/Sugar/Honey/Lemon (All Standards although  seldom ever used, it is expected that you carry these around to every gig, set them up on the off chance and have to lug them back to your office every single night. I personally LOVE All of these things, and I feel that if you the promoter have made the effort I will endeavour to make myself  and you- should you want one, a cuppa!)

3)      SNACKS  To Include:
a)      A Selection of Meats: This is the bit when you go to the meat section of the supermarket and just go crazy, although please don’t pick up Bernard Manning or any of those kids sandwich packs or anything that looks like it could be scraped off the floor and thrown into a packet (basically this is not an ASDA moment) but also please use a bit of common sense and do not provide us with BEEF... who puts supermarket Beef in a sandwich! Ugh makes me sick just thinking about it, however if you are feeling so kind to roast Beef on the day of the show (or the day before) for our rider, this is appreciated and may be rewarded. Otherwise no Beef! Just think about it!
b)      A Selection of Cheeses: Again this is fairly self explanatory, get a selection, a Cheddar (But not Mild, who buys mild???) A Bree, A Blue Cheese, Something Spicy (Nothing with Fruit), you can get one of those “Cheese Selection” packs, they are usually pretty good and come with a knife (often something forgotten) and a board to chop it on.
c)       A Selection of Bread: Fresh Rolls preferably or Bagels (Love Bagels!), but other types of bread are acceptable, but please consider that we are making sandwiches and would request that the bread is fresh and not basics (We were students and consumed enough 39p bread back then for a lifetime) My Personal Favourite is “Tiger Bread” (In Loaf or Roll format, no need to be picky) if it’s still warm I’ll get down on my knees and suck your preferred testicle (Disclaimer: Only ONE testicle per show) (Further Disclaimer: The Bread must be at the optimium temperature where my butter (Please Provide Butter, Butter/Butter not Flora or the Italian one or some can’t believe its not butter stuff...) melts without a hasty knife wrist action and only then will this offer be redeemable
d)      A Selection of Fruits To Include but not be limited to... Apple, Orange, Banana, Grapes, Peaches, Plums, Pears, Nectarines, Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Gooseberries, Quince, Cherry, Apricot, Greengage, Paw Paw, Loganberry, Jujube, Pomegranate, Pineapple, Grapefruit, Kumquat, Passion Fruit, Guava, Avocado, Lyches or any other tropical fruit. Preferably freshly grown by yours truly or provided by a local organic greengrocer and not just a selection of Basics from any previous advertised supermarket... I can taste the difference.
e)      A Selection of Vegetables To Include by not be limited to... well use your common sense, there’s no point bringing us any “Flower Bud” or “Tubers” without any means to cook them is there... Tomatoes, Celery (Although personally I hate it), Carrots, Cucumber etc etc... You Don’t need me to hold your hand
f)       A Selection of Dips (Hummus, Salsa, Sour Cream yadda yadda) if we can dip a vegetable in it... buy it please!  But don’t get funny with me and provide me with a pot of Chicken Tonight sauce like some smart ass did, let’s just say he ended up wearing it as a hat if  you know what I mean and still works up a cold sweat every time he hears that theme song.
g)      An Assortment of Crisps and Nuts I think we know each other well enough now to cut to the chase... A Walkers Six Pack may be acceptable to our support band but we will not be happy to see 2 packets of ready salted, 2 packets of cheese and onion and 2 packets of salt and vinegar in our dressing room on arrival. We are more likely to crush them all up and sprinkle them down your trousers... If Walkers are your sponsor please provide us with some of their more expressive flavours  or cutting styles. Personally I’d like to forget Walkers all together and focus more on Kettle Chips, McCoys or Vegetable Chips, Wholewheat Pita Chips are also really nice too.  This isn’t an empty threat.  We probably won’t eat the nuts but buy them anyway.
h)      An Assortment of Chocolate Bars Major brands only please, basically check if there’s an ice cream version of it and we’ll be barking up the right tree.
i)        Utensils/sauces for us to make said sandwiches this is a fatal flaw when it comes to riders, often you have everything to make a delicious sandwich but without a knife or bread or butter or mayonnaise or BBQ Sauce and nothing makes me more depressed than this. Well Supermarket Beef but I think I’ve already covered that. We aren’t monsters are unlikely to want to accumulate a lifetimes supply of plastic cutlery so you’ll be able to use it on other shows. Yes plastic is fine, however metal and fine china is always welcomed and will enhance the quality of our performance.
4)      MISC.
a)      Several Postcards of the town we are playing in: We have anxious parents that our worried we are simply drinking and eating and playing “music” and would love to know that we are still alive and well and maintaining some level of cleanliness and good manners (of course from this rider you have discovered that the latter is present in our every day behaviour).  Of Course if the highlight of your town is an old tree stump that Lisa Stansfield once took a piss on, then please let our Tour Manager know and we will promptly cancel the show and have a day on the sofa instead because quite frankly it’s not worth our time or yours.
b)      A Packet of Extra Large Condoms Now you think I’m doing myself a great service here but I’m being serious, in my long list of skills and talents designed to make the world a better place, I require Extra Large Condoms, I’ll even show you if you do not believe me, the only reason I have not enlisted myself in a life of porn is due to my lack of acting ability and I believe if you can’t really live and breathe the role of a plumber, people will never fully invest themselves into the character and as a fan of motion pictures I could not inflict that on others. Alternatively If you do not believe that condoms are your responsibility I beg you to reconsider your chosen profession.  I am playing your event and by doing so I am turning women on and without means to protect myself (and them), your event is effectively impregnating them and as a result you are liable to any of the circumstances post said impregnation including but not limited to marriage, raising the child as your own, paying for it’s education, wedding etc. So save yourself a lot of money and effort and buy some condoms, as we have already discussed the only other reason besides “the music” (yeah right) is women!
Right I think that covers everything, of course you’ve seen a lot of these riders so once again i encourage you to use your common sense on anything I may have missed out on in my small and modest request required to get the very best out of this experience.  We are very much looking forward to meeting you and cannot wait to hear from you regarding what cannot be provided on our forthcoming show, of course I think we have an understanding as to what can be removed from this simple list (aka nothing) but if you feel any of it should be discussed simply contact our Tour Manager so he/she can bully you into submission.  And Please under no circumstances ask us for any CDs/T-Shirts/Tote Bags/Autographs for you/your best friend/your girlfriend/boyfriend, transsexual cousin/sister/brother/aunt... whatever. On the very unlikely event that we should offer such a service, say no and walk away.
Thanks and all the very best,

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Recommended Playlist- 23/06/2011

The Field Mice- Your Kidding Aren’t You (Snowball, 1989) "Classic Sarah Records Act" 
Red Fang-Wires (Murder The Mountains, 2011) "Wigout Guitar anthem" 
Sons & Daughters- Breaking Fun (Mirror Mirror 2011) "Mighty New Decadent Sinister Pop from Scotland's Premier Band" 
Duane Eddy- Road Trip (Road Trip 2011) "The King of The Road Returns" 
Blanck Mass-Sifted Gold (Blanck Mass 2011) "Ambient Downbeat from one-half of Fuck Buttons" 
Cashier No.9-Lost At Sea (To The Death of Fun 2011) "Sky High Indie Pop From Belfast"
Jehst- Zombies (The Dragon of An Ordinary Family 2011) "All Hail The Return of The Mighty Jehst" 
Patrick Wolf- The City (Lupercalia, 2011)  "Suprisingly Very Happy Return from South London's King of Camp Grandeur Chamber Pop" 
Diskjokke- Mandena (Sagara, 2011) "Dark and Inspiring electronic anbience from the depths of the world" 
John Maus- Street Light (We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves, 2011) "Get on the floor with the album that finally captures the frenzy of Maus' live performance attack"
Destroyer- Chinatown (Kaputt, 2011) "Cannot get enough of Destroyer's finest record ever, guaranteed to cross over to the broadsheet coffee table crowd with the most pop hooks this side of the 21st century" 
Hoodlums- Landmarks (Landmarks/The Great Outsiders 7", 2011) "Atmospheric and potentially chart bothering indie pop"
Dum Dum Girls-Stiff Little Fingers (Stiff Little Fingers Ltd 7", 2010) "Further Proof That There is Real Substance behind Dee Dee and Co's homage to Shangraigaze if any was needed." 

Pontiak- Comecrudos Part 1 (Comecrudos, 2011) "Limited 12 Vinyl Release intended as a soundtrack on a drive between Phoenix and Texas... Having done that journey I can confirm This is a perfect soundtrack to the empty roads and sandy paths of the USA" 

LaVern Baker- Voodoo Voodoo (Voodoo Voodoo/Hey Memphis 7" 2011) "Re-Released Rocker from a pre-fame Phil Spector, bound to get everyone shaking when it gets played on the ole' 45 jukebox, classic vocals from a forgotten Voice."

Fink- Yesterday Was Hard on All of Us (Perfect Darkness, 2011) "Fink returns with his most commercial record to date, an obvious choice for fans of acoustica, heart draining lyricism and thoughtful production."

Monday, 6 June 2011

Arctic Monkeys- Suck It & See

Arctic Monkeys return after the excellent Humbug with "Suck It and See" Turner's typical wordplay is the strongest factor in what is unfortantely a by the numbers effort which seeks to satisfy the fan definition of the band. Expect more engimatic women existing in Turner's northern stories to familiar effects. By all means not a weak effort as the Monkeys hit some above-average indie pop but follow the expected route rather than venturing in any new direction.  A Long suck leaves a familiar if not pleasant taste (too easy) 6/10

Cold Showers- I Don't Mind/Near Burn 7"


Debut 7" from LA four piece Cold Showers. No Words. Just An Awesome Song you should be playing all summer. Insane Video Too!

Cold Showers - "I Don't Mind" from Mexican Summer on Vimeo.

Julianna Barwick- The Magic Place

This album has been doing the rounds for a while so If you have not yet been privileged to soar along with Barwick's 3rd album The Magic Place where have you been... (Unless like me you've been travelling and then you can be forgiven) A Record that is almost a transcending, eye opening solitary experience, heavenly but also based inside the very torture of solitude and loneliness. Hauntingly melancholy but also joyful hymnal childhood innocence...

Fucked Up- David Comes To Life

Fucked Up- David Comes To Life

Fucked Up come back from the great unknown for what is a wonderful step back, whilst soaring forward from the Canadian giants; sounding sonically more like Hidden World than their previous polaris prize winning Chemistry of Common Life... David Comes To Life is like no other album you will ever hear... lyrically explosive, engaging and deserving of all the hyperbole anyone can throw at it. There are few records which will really hit you from all angles like this one, but I will leave you to experience it for yourselves and read elsewhere about the story behind one of the most pecuilar "rock operas" of our generation. I predict this will be in my top 5 if not higher when it comes time to compare this year's great releases...
Matador you sleigh me once again... 10/10

Thao & Mirah- S/T

Thao & Mirah- S/T

Put Together Thao, who is known to most as the leader of the get down stay down, electrically charged and punked up serrated rockers and Mirah, who can be simply defined as creating some lovely twee and simple songs in various guises and various artists over the last decade. It's not necessarily the most suitable combination, you get the impression it could be a clash of the indie darling champions eclipsing each other with style over substance. But Instead their debut is a astounding success, flipping in style from track to track, blissful summer pop which often settles to showcase the talents of just one of the duo but where their voices combine true magic is made...

May 2011- EMA- Past Life Martyred Saints

So I've been going around the USA so this blog has been obviously abused and left on the wayside during this time, but gradually getting back to the good news:

EMA- Past Life Martyred Saints is where I'll choose to begin and it's a stunning and brutal album, unsuited to reviews and genre tags because it is quite simply astounding... I guess it can be filed with Liz Phair, PJ Harvey and other 90s grunge inspired girls for simple lazy comparisons but Erika M. Anderson (formally of Amps For Christ and of Gown) effortlessly jumps all over the place from heavy beats to 4 track punked up rock. This album cannot be sampled as it should be engulfed by every listener, grab your headphones and take a step inside one of the best records this year has to offer. Mindblowing 9/10
Experience this sample of "California"