Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Junior85 - aka Tony Higgins - is a Galway-based musician and composer who has also played drums for acts such as Laura Sheeran, Meljoann, So Cow and Damo Suzuki. There's loads of his music available for free download at, but a good place to start is with this set that he uploaded to Soundcloud recently:

junior85 by junior85

'Glock 7:"emit time"' is a hypnotic, dizzying piece of experimentation taken from the 'interactive songwriting' GlockEPspiel EP, 'For Reason, Forgotten' is an atmospheric track that swells subtly, while the gripping, layered 'Stance Gives You Power' is taken from his golf-inspired collaboration with fellow Galway musician DeclanQKelly; Hogan Grip.

Probably my favourite though is 'An Ex and Well, Well', an intricate though catchy track with a mesmeric central loop. There's an interesting interview with him on Sweet Oblivion, which was part of a wider focus on the Galway music scene.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Magnetic Island - Keyboard EP

The latest EP from Magnetic Island is another change of sound for the New York-based duo/loose collective. The name might suggest a flirtation with 80's pop or something like that, but that's not the case: instead, Keyboard has a vintage alt-rock feel. The guitars and vocals on tuneful opening track 'The Way', for example, have a bit of a 4AD vibe about them. 'Wish I Knew' swells subtly but anthemically, while 'Diner' is a thrilling instrumental track with lashings of distortion. Great stuff, and the EP is free to download from their Bandcamp.

A debut album is on the way too.

FaltyDL - 'Make It Difficult/Jack Your Job'

(All City 12")

So far this year FaltyDL's given us an excellent album (You Stand Uncertain) and the thrilling 'Hip Love' 12", as well as remixes such as his take on TEETH's 'Shawty'. His latest release is on All City, and it doesn't disappoint. 'Make It Difficult' drips with summer vibes, its soulful sample interacting with an irresistible, typically intricate groove. 'Jack Your Job' is more frantic and busy, with a pounding beat, preacher-like samples and even some jazz flute.

FaltyDL also contributed a mix to Mary Anne Hobbs' XFM show the other night. I can't see it on her Mixcloud at the moment, but - Google is your friend.


FaltyDL - Hip Love by RAMP Recordings / PTN

LA Vampires Goes Ital - Streetwise

(Not Not Fun 12")

Amanda Brown can do no wrong. Formerly one half of the "Olsen twins of blissed out drone" Pocahaunted (the other half being Bethany Consentino who went on to form Best Coast), she's also the co-founder of Not Not Fun Records and sub-imprint 100% Silk. As LA Vampires, she's pursued a collaborative approach: a split LP with San Francisco's Psychic Reality was followed by the dubbed-out goth-drone of LA Vampires & Zola Jesus and the woozily hypnotic tape-loops of So Unreal (which featured input from Matrix Metals).

LA Vampires Goes Ital - Streetwise from Not Not Fun on Vimeo.

This time around she's teamed up with Ital (Daniel Martin McCormick of Mi Ami/Sex Worker) for Streetwise. It's got that familiar hazy, warped sensibility we've come to expect from LA Vampires' output, but it's warmer and more melodic than what's come before - the title track sounds almost summery, with chiming loops and catchy, tuneful vocals echoing in and out of the mix. 'A Woman Is A Woman', meanwhile, is anchored by a rhythmic, limber bassline, with Brown lyrically pursuing the themes of femininity and glamour that are a feature of the LA Vampires visual aesthetic.

Stream the record via Altered Zones:

LA Vampires Goes Ital: Streetwise by alteredzones

Check the Coyote Clean Up remix of 'Streetwise'.

Ital, incidentally, are/is responsible for this beaut of a tune:

Zola Jesus + LA Vampires, "Eulogy" by selftitledmag

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Patrick Kelleher & His Cold Dead Hands - Golden Syrup

(Osaka Records LP)

Patrick Kelleher’s 2009 debut You Look Cold may have been a universally-acclaimed release, but it was clear from the restless, experimental nature of the album that the Dublin-based musician would be unlikely to repeat himself second time around. Last year’s ‘Contact Sports’ 7″ on Skinny Wolves gave a clear indication of where he was taking things, sleeker than what came before, it nonetheless retained an unmistakeable edge: weird, murky and spooked-sounding, the song (included here) wore its ’80s synth influences on its sleeve but sounded utterly fresh and forward-looking at the same time. The accompanying promo video, meanwhile, was one of the most perfect examples of the form in recent memory, nailing – and enhancing – the track’s haunted-underground-disco vibe.

A similar aesthetic prevails on Golden Syrup, although it’s enticingly mixed with Kelleher’s more conventional pop/crooner tendencies (signposted by his recent cover of Niamh Kavanagh’s Eurovision hit ‘In Your Eyes’). The effect is jarring but compelling; at once familiar and strange. There’s a more propulsive quality to the music here compared to his first album, due in part to the more prominent role of backing band His Cold Dead Hands (some of whom are fellow members of experimental collective Children Under Hoof). The vortex-like atmospherics, pulsing bass and out-of-place guitar solo of opening track ‘Miracle Candle’ don’t so much reel you in to the album as drag you under. On the gothic synth-pop of the title track and ‘Seen Me Blue’, vocals are manipulated or draped in reverb, periodically switching from austere baritone to falsetto to showy Walker-esque turns. The overall effect is disorientating and unsettling.

This combination of ’80s influences with skewed flourishes and eccentric touches puts you in mind of the likes of Ariel Pink or John Maus, while Joy Division and New Order have also been cited as influences. The placid, relatively straight-laced ‘Broken Up Now’ – featuring Kelleher’s vocals at their most beguiling – certainly calls to mind New Order with its warmly melodic bassline, while the stamp of their original incarnation is all over ‘Too Many Harsh Words’: nodding to the dread-inducing low end and atmospheric synths of Closer, it nonetheless has its own unique rhythmic vibe, seeming to envisage where that band might have went rather than settle for imitation.

Elsewhere, ‘I Don’t Remember’ features a spoken-word vocal over a flickering, John Carpenter-esque electronic backdrop, gradually giving way to squall and distortion, while ‘Strawberry Dog’ dips its toe in brisk, folk-tinged electronica. The wistful strains of ‘Still In School’ bring things to a close, providing a tranquil, understated conclusion to the record. Golden Syrup isn’t without flaws – it’s slightly uneven and the quality flags a couple of times – but overall it makes for a darkly danceable and frequently enthralling listen.

Patrick Kelleher & His Cold Dead Hands - Golden Syrup by osakaRecords

There's a great interview with Kelleher over on Thumped.

Samiyam - Sam Baker's Album

(Brainfeeder LP)

The LA-based label/collective Brainfeeder – helmed by beat wizard Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus – have built up one of the more formidable rosters 2011 has to offer. So far we’ve had excellent releases from Tokimonsta, Matthewdavid, Mono/Poly, Jeremiah Jae and Taylor McFerrin, with heavily-anticipated records still to come from jazz-influenced prodigy Thundercat and freshly-signed dubstep figurehead Martyn. Characterised by a wide diversity of styles and a forward-thinking approach (Ellison himself completely overhauled his signature sound for last year’s dazzling Cosmogramma), the label has come a long way since its first official release, which was Samiyam’s Rap Beats Volume 1 in 2009. Probably the closest thing to a ‘quintessential’ Brainfeeder sound, Samiyam’s short, layered and colourful beat-sketches proved to be a major influence on much instrumental hip-hop in the last year or two.


Sam Baker’s Album doesn’t see him deviate too much from the blueprint. Whereas none of the tracks on Rap Beats hit the two-minute mark, Samiyam tends to persist with a groove for a bit longer now; nevertheless, the longest track here comes in at just under four minutes. The producer prefers the concise approach, allowing his catchy creations enough time to shine but cutting them short before they risk sounding repetitive. Opening track ‘Escape’ leads in with deceptive retro-sounding synths before seguing into a more familiar warped and funk-tinged sound. On numbers like ‘Where Am I’ and ‘Cushion’, thick, imposing, bass-heavy grooves mix with hazy, off-kilter touches, making for a subtly hypnotic brew. Elsewhere, the wonky ‘Frosting Packets’ features those unmistakeable 8-bit touches that were in evidence on his Return EP for Hyperdub.


The physicality of the percussion and low-end combined with the trippy quality of the compositions accounts for much of this record’s appeal. While Samiyam tends to stick to those strengths, what Sam Baker’s Album lacks in variety it makes up for in cohesion and atmosphere. As Jamie Redknapp would say: a top, top producer at work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

new Letter From Belgium EP

A new EP from Letter From Belgium aka Alan Healy, who also plays with Hooray For Humans and The Bridges Of Madison County. At 31 minutes it's pretty much album-length, but it holds your attention throughout. Really good stuff: opening track 'Best Left' is electronic in structure but has a mellow folky vibe, while 'Still Close' is similarly dreamy and weightless - it's the first LFB track to feature vocals (Jen from Hooray For Humans). 'By Now, I Can Barely Remember The Sound Of Your Voice' and 'Travis & Hunter' are more mournful in tone, with a quietly hypnotic late-night ambience, although the latter gives way to a more up-tempo post-rock-type section. Overall this is engaging, atmospheric stuff.

LFB003 by Letter From Belgium

There's a link to download the EP here:

The cover artwork is by Aoife from Sweet Oblivion.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Diva - 'Glow Worm'

Ex-members of LA-based psychedelic-dub-drone band Pocahaunted include Amanda Brown (of LA Vampires/Not Not Fun) and Bethany Cosentino (aka Best Coast). Diva Dompe now looks set to make her mark solo-wise: 'Glow Worm' is taken from her cassette The Glitter End, which Ariel Pink voted as his 3rd favourite album of last year and which is now getting a re-release. 'Glow Worm' is a hypnotic, warped and trippy tune that's very reminiscent of Brown's LA Vampires material, although this has a warmer tone to it, partly because of Dompe's beguiling vocals.

DIVA - GLOW WORM from Lily X. Wahrman on Vimeo.