Sunday, April 18, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
It's been four years since the last Redneck Manifesto release (they had two EP's out that year) and a whole six years since their last LP, I Am Brazil. In the intervening time period, bass player Richie Egan (aka Jape) gained plenty of critical plaudits as well as winning The Choice Prize for 2008's Ritual, but the cult status of the Rednecks remains strong: their influence - be it musical or in their independent stance - is detectable in a whole range of domestic acts that have sprung up in the last few years, including Adebisi Shank, The Cast of Cheers, And So I Watch You From Afar and Enemies. The Rednecks have signed to the Richter Collective label for their much-anticipated new album Friendship, which is a neat way of bringing things full circle, considering that many of the acts signed to Richter plough a similar furrow.
With anticipation at fever-pitch levels, then, it's all the more impressive that comeback single 'Black Apple' didn't so much meet expectations as blow the collective minds of the already-faithful. Quite simply one of the tracks of the year so far, it packs a dazzling host of tempo changes, textures, intricate riffs and danceable grooves into its five-minute running time. It's the sound of masters at work, surveying a burgeoning post/math-rock scene and deciding to remind everyone that they were playing this game when Travis were flavour of the month.
Does the rest of Friendship live up to this high standard? It sure does. In comparison to I Am Brazil, the production here is cleaner and not as homespun: not always a good thing, but it is here, throwing all the instrumental dexterity into sharp relief and emphasising the light and shade. On tracks like 'Smile More' and 'Rubber Up', the group exhibit an almost-ADD approach to their craft, nailing a bass or guitar-led groove and running with it for a while, before stretching out, changing the tempo, setting some atmosphere, and then again hitting on a groove that sends the tune down another alley. It's as enjoyable as it is impressive, and that's why the Rednecks are so feted: it's a considerable achievement to make complex, multi-layered instrumental music that courses with vitality and demands your attention to the extent that Friendship does.
If it all sounds very jam-band-esque, then it's important to note also the electronic textures on tracks like the atmospheric 'Tomb of the Dudes', its cyclical bassline and insistent guitar picking building a hypnotic ambience that bleeds into an echo-drenched outro, or the masterfully layered, jazz-influenced 'Hex'.
Friendship is a stunning album and could well see The Redneck Manifesto make the transition from Irish cult heroes to breakout success over the pond, considering that some of their Richter labelmates have already being making a wave or two out on the fringes. The masters are back: long may they run.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Fancy a 21-track free sampler from semi-legendary record label Kill Rock Stars? Available from their website, it features tracks from Marnie Stern, Bikini Kill, The Decemberists, Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu.
Canadian five-piece Stars are back with some new material. 'Fixed' is the first taster from their upcoming fifth studio album The Five Ghosts (released June 22nd). No great departure here, Amy Millan's dreamy vocals floating above a bedrock of M83-style synths. Here's hoping The Five Ghosts will mark a return to the kind of form that brought us 2005 masterpiece Set Yourself on Fire.
If hearing seminal poet/proto-hip hop musician Gil Scott-Heron sampling Kanye West on the opening track of his excellent comeback album I'm New Here was a thrilling moment, then this recasting of standout track 'New York is Killing Me' - featuring Nas and his own brand of world-weary street-poetry - is up there too.
Get the mp3 here:
This is an excellent remix of an already great song. L.A.-based Nite Jewel's airy production adds an extra layer of melancholy to a vocal that's deceptively submerged on the original.
get the mp3 here:
If Kele Okereke - possibly the most irritating person in rock/pop/music at the moment - can get all that awkward try-hard electronica out of his system on his upcoming solo album, could Bloc Party return to being the superb outfit that they were on their debut? We can but hope.
The full line-up for Castle Palooza, the 2-day boutique music and arts festival, will be announced tomorrow morning on their newly launched website. For now, however, it's known that the very excellent Mercury Rev will be headlining. Also on the bill so far: Fionn Regan, CODES, Wave Machines, Taylor McFerrin, Cashier No.9, Lonelady and Adebisi Shank.
Castle Palooza takes place on July 31st-August 1st, and tickets go on sale 9am Friday.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Big, big release this. I'm still feeling my way through the dubstep/grime scene, so i'm not going to make a lame attempt to describe this tune. Instead, here's a killer write-up from jimitheexploder over at http://thesonicminefeild.blogspot.com/:
"This is a track that can’t be stopped, a certified anthem that has to be unleashed on the public while it’s hot. It’s so hot it can’t be left until Joker finishes his album the track is just too big to be confined and sat on. It’s not to often an anthem comes around that you’ll hear everyone in the dubstep scene and a fair few beyond play out, but ‘Tron’ is one of them and has been for some time, maybe pre-dating the last scene wide anthem ‘Hyph Mngo’ and the latest upstart ‘Footcrab’. At a time where there is so much talk of the scene expanding and bleeding in all directions, ‘Tron’ shows that there is still a united core at work behind dubstep and one with depth too if you take those three examples. So to write words about this track seems almost futile, as you’ve either heard it and even sung along to it’s twisted synth lines, hell you may have even choreographed a dance to it… But if you haven’t heard it, first of all where have you been? And come inside you’re in for a real treat, you’ll be throwing gun fingers from your neon glow bike in no time.
The 5th release on Joker’s Kapsize label is born: ‘Tron’ takes Joker’s hyper addictive synth funk aesthetic and really lets it wile out. It’s smoother than breakthrough anthem ‘Gully Brooke Lane’ but more deranged than ‘Digidesign’. It’s a track that sounds like it’s born out of the last few years of Joker playing bigger and bigger raves, a track that doesn’t hold back. It’s smooth yet hyper-filth all at once, blurring the lines of dubstep and grime along with crunked out hip-hop. The intro springs into action like a hyped up circus/big-top soundtrack and not unlike a grimy vision of Quest’s ‘The Seafront’ before really letting loose. Then you get the drop, THAT drop: pent up energy, compressed and unleashed through vintage synths and hyeprfunk melody lines that burst and flutter as they progress over fat bass tones and punchy drums. The nearest you’ll get to ‘Tron’ in Joker released material is his work with the badman that is Ginz, but if you’ve stepped inside one of Joker’s sets you’ll no doubt know, ‘My Trance Girl’ and ‘There She Goes’ are on a similar tip.
The VIP is a hot one too, smoothing out the edges and upping the funk to create a track that is what you may imagine the rumoured Silkie collaborations to sound like if/when they surface. Smooth supped up late night street soul. Plus it’s a welcome twist up of the original to throw the floor, which is handy when the original is so well played. Joker blurs the lines and leads the way with his dubstep meets grime hybrids. Fitting in with Terror Danjah and Swindle as much as he does Gemmy and Guido, let alone Skream and Benga. ‘Tron’ is finally unleashed it’s a firm declaration of intent by Joker to shake up dance floors."
Joker "TRON" (original mix) by Multiverse
The Hold Steady's last album - 2008's Stay Positive - had all the familiar ingredients, but something about it just didn't feel right. That something may well have been the excessively muddy production, which pretty much suffocated the bar-band punch that was one of their main strengths. Fortunately, on 'Rock Problems', a taster from their upcoming fifth album Heaven is Whenever, the sound is clean, crisp and punchy again, with a rollicking, instantly memorable riff accompanying another of Craig Finn's tales of girls, parties and wasted youth.
The new album will be the first since keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay left the band in January. It's released on May 3rd through Rough Trade (or Vagrant in the U.S.).
Via http://www.irishtimes.com/blogs/ontherecord/, some good tidings of the gigging variety:
Post-rock legends Tortoise will be playing in Whelan's on July 10th. Tickets 29 euro, on sale now.
The Books will be playing an all-seater show in The Button Factory, May 13th, 20 euro.
And The Ruby Suns play a Ragged Words night at the Twisted Pepper, May 27, 12 euro.
Not content with the release of The Redneck Manifesto's superb new album Friendship, the Richter Collective label have now turned their attention to one of their non-Irish signees, Worrier. Their debut album, Source Error Spells, is now available from Bandcamp for the bargain price of a fiver. You can also stream it from there:
The Wisconsin-based band fit in with the abiding Richter aesthetic, but they've got their own unique twist on things. This is needly, tense, danceable math-rock, characterised by intricate guitar lines and urgent, yelped vocals: the excellent brace of opening tracks shouldn't waste any time in reeling you in.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Mysterious Michigan-based SALEM's haunted re-interpretation of Bruce Springsteen's 'Streets of Philadelphia', titled 'Brustreet', has been out there for a while, but only just now came to my attention via 20jazzfunkgreats. It's astounding, replacing the measured melancholy of the original with a ghostly, windswept desolation. Get it here:
Great as it is though, the South Park 'Jared Has Aides' version remains the finest.
Wildbirds & Peacedrums' masterful The Snake took the prize as this blog's favourite album of last year, although I later found out that, strictly speaking, it was a 2008 release. The Swedish duo have some brand new material on the way: the Retina EP will be released on May 10th, and they're giving away a track from it, the superb 'Fight For Me', to anyone who signs up for the Leaf Label mailing list:
The track heads in a darker, more sinister direction, with ominous percussion and Gregorian-chant-style backing vocals from the Reykjavík Chamber Choir. Much like their previous release, it sounds like nothing else around.
The Retina EP will be followed in June by the Iris EP. Both vinyl-only EP's will then be combined for the LP Rivers, to be released in August.
Friday, April 2, 2010
The good folks over at Out On A Limb Records have just launched a new website at http://www.outonalimbrecords.com/. In the coming weeks they'll be adding nifty features including a shop. Also, anyone who subscribes to the mailing list on the website over the weekend will be entered into a draw for a free goodiebag.
In other Out On A Limb news, Windings will release debut single 'Brain Fluid', on April 16th, and an album will follow in the fall. Windings will be touring the country in late April as well as playing support to Ted Leo on May 8th in Whelan's.
There's also a split OOAL 7" on the way in the summer.
An excellent chillwave/glo-fi/whatever you like to call it mix is up for streaming or download over at http://www.nialler9.com/. Features the soaring highpoint of the musical movement/genre for my money, Washed Out's remix of Small Black's 'Despicable Dogs', as well as tunes from Toro Y Moi, Memory Tapes and Tanlines. Go get it.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
1. MASSIVE ATTACK
The Bristol collective are easily one of the most important and influential British acts of the last 20 years, and their Friday night set at the festival in 2006 was the stuff of legend. Mixing dark, moody trip-hop and dub-influenced electronica with stunning visuals, you can also expect some heavyweight guest vocalists (last time around Liz Frazer and Horace Andy joined them in Stradbally).
The Sex Pistols' appearance at EP08 was one of the most divisive in the history of the festival, but there'll be a whole lot more goodwill coming the way of John Lydon's newly-reformed Public Image Ltd. The pioneering post-punk outfit's influence has grown and grown down the years, and with an eclectic sound that draws on reggae, dub, punk and krautrock, they should go down a storm at the Picnic.
3. GIL SCOTT-HERON
This one's going to be emotional. Scott-Heron's late 70's/early 80's spoken-word and poetry works are regarded as a formative influence on hip-hop and black activism, but his last decade has been more distinguished by prison sentences and drug addiction. That was until the 2010 release of I'm New Here, a revelatory record featuring wary, weather-beaten, Waits-ish testimonials like 'Me and the Devil Blues' and 'New York is Kiling Me'.
4. FEVER RAY
The solo project of enigmatic Knife frontwoman Karen Dreijr, Fever Ray played Oxegen last year to a shed of bemused dance-heads in an unfortunate example of wrong place, wrong time. Stradbally should be more up her alley. Fever Ray's dark, claustrophobic music draws on unsettling images of motherhood and post-natal depression, while in the live setting the experience becomes even more surreal: at Oxegen Dreijr donned a massive Indian headdress, her band came attired in similarly ritualistic manner, and lasers were added for good measure. Prepare to immerse yourself in a nightmarish netherworld.
5. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
According to James Murphy, this year's LCD tour-dates will be their last as he moves on to other projects, so catch them while you still can. Their much-anticipated new album comes out in May, while you can also expect to hear 24-carat classics like 'Someone Great', 'Tribulations' and 'North American Scum'. Sure to turn Stradbally into a giant, blissful dancefloor.
6. HERE WE GO MAGIC
Essentially Massachusetts-born Luke Temple's project, Here We Go Magic's self-titled 2009 debut featured hypnotic, polyrhythmic, Afro-pop influenced tunes that burrowed their way into your subconscious. The follow-up will be released this spring, and it's already been preceded by the hyperactive David Byrne-isms of 'Collector'. By all accounts, Here We Go Magic's music is further enhanced in a live setting.
7. MEMORY TAPES
Aside from being one of the most prolific go-to remixers of 2009 and releasing sterling music under the names Memory Cassettes and Weird Tapes, New Jersey-based Dayve Hawk released the critically-acclaimed debut Memory Tapes LP, Seek Magic, last year. Frequently tied in with the chillwave craze that's also seen acts like Toro Y Moi and Washed Out become the darlings of the blogosphere, Seek Magic featured tracks like the New Order-referencing 'Bicycle', the woozy 'Pink Stones' and the blissed-out 'Run Out'. Should be equal parts floor-filling and mellow.
8. REDNECK MANIFESTO
Jape is already one of Stradbally's favourite sons, but as part of the instrumental collective Redneck Manifesto, it's a whole other ball-game. Defiantly independent and now signed to the excellent Richter Collective label, their thrilling, dazzling brand of post-rock has arguably been the biggest influence on the domestic Irish scene in the last few years, certainly if the music of many of their new labelmates is anything to go by. Math-rock, electronic flourishes and heavy guitar assaults will be the order of the day. It's a no-brainer.
One of the most influential electronic acts of the 1990's, rumours of Leftfield's imminent reformation and festival appearances seem to have been circulating forever, and if ever there was an act who suited a festival down to the ground, then here they are and here it is. Expect their 1995 masterpiece Leftism to feature prominently - and perhaps a certain J. Lydon will be joining them onstage for 'Open Up'?
Eclectic, unpredictable and massively underrated, Daniel Victor Snaith took on the moniker Caribou after previously being known as Manitoba, but the quality of his output hasn't dropped: new album Swim will be released in April; the sublime opening track 'Odessa' has already been released and promises great things to come.