• Things I enjoyed listening to in 2010

    1. Jan. 2011, 17:52

    Album list:

    Women – Public Strain
    Cursor Miner – Requires Attention
    Liars – Sisterworld
    Pantha du Prince – Black Noise
    Caribou – Swim
    Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
    Beach House – Teen Dream
    Actress - Splazsh
    Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
    The Ex – Catch My Shoe
    Sleigh Bells – Treats
    Emeralds – Does It Look Like I’m Here?

    Tracks I've played a lot this year:

    Crystal Castles – Doe Deer
    Deerhunter – Desire Lines
    Women – Eyesore
    Liars – Scarecrows on a Killer Slant
    M.I.A. – Steppin’ Up
    A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Drink Drank Drunk

    Memorable gigs:

    The Ex and Brass Unbound – 1 February, Hare and Hounds, Birmingham (my gig of the year)
    Steve Reich’s Drumming – 20 February, Town Hall, Birmingham
    A Sunny Day In Glasgow – 28 May, Primavera Sound, Barcelona
    Modified Toy Orchestra – 8 September, Town Hall, Birmingham
    Melt-Banana, Nisennenmondai, Zeni Geva (Dead Sun Rising live is possibly one the best things I’ve heard all year), Ruins – 22 - 24 October, Supersonic Festival, Birmingham
    Low – 17 November, St John’s Church, Coventry
  • Things I enjoyed listening to in the Noughties

    14. Jan. 2010, 15:50

    First stab at a list here - in no order really. I might think of more.

    Melt-Banana – Bambi's Dilemma (2007)
    The Knife – Silent Shout (2006)
    Danger Mouse – The Gray Album (2004)
    Broadcast – Ha Ha Sound (2003)
    Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)
    Kanye West – Late Registration (2005)
    M.I.A. – Arular (2005)
    Sleater-Kinney – The Woods (2005)
    Boris – Pink (2005)
    Goldfrapp – Felt Mountain (2000)
    Shellac – Excellent Italian Greyhound (2007)
    Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)
    Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (2006)
    Sunn O))) – Monoliths & Dimensions (2009)
    The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema (2005)
    Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues (2004)
    Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out (2000)
    Tom Waits – Blood Money (2002)
    Missy Elliott – Under Construction (2002)
    Liars – Drum's Not Dead (2006)
    Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell (2003)
    Future of the Left – Travels With Myself and Another (2009)
    Les Savy Fav – Inches (2004)
    Bjork – Medulla (2004)
    Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse (2004)
    Ellen Allien – Berlinette (2003)
    Mclusky – mclusky Do Dallas (2002)
    Dizzee Rascal – Boy in da Corner (2003)
    LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem (2005) (really, it’s tied with Sound of Silver)
    Mahogany – Connectivity! (2006)
    Explosions in the Sky – The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place (2003)
    Burial – Untrue (2007)
    The Avalanches – Since I Left You (2001)
    The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (2002)
  • Things I enjoyed listening to in 2009

    1. Jan. 2010, 11:53

    Overall, I didn't think this was a vintage year, but there were still some gems to be found. I'm rubbish at ranking things, but I can tell you that I have enjoyed:

    Future of the LeftTravels With Myself and Another
    Fever RayFever Ray
    Moderat - Moderat
    The Rural Alberta AdvantageHometowns
    Sunn O)))Monoliths and dimensions
    Broadcast and The Focus GroupInvestigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age
    Telepathe - Dance Mother
    Art BrutArt Brut vs. Satan
    Dirty ProjectorsBitte Orca
    A Sunny Day In GlasgowAshes Grammar

    I will do a Noughties list shortly too.
  • 2008's contributions to my tinnitus (better late than never)

    19. Jan. 2009, 22:24

    I’m rubbish at 'best ofs' (or even ranking stuff) but here’s a list of things I enjoyed listening to in 2008:

    Portishead - Third
    Jacaszek - Treny
    Times New Viking - Rip It Off
    Deerhunter - Microcastle
    2562 - Aerial
    Beach House - Devotion
    The Bug - London Zoo
    Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
    Errors - It's Not Something But It Is Like Whatever
    Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna
    Telepathe - Chrome’s on It EP
    Telepathe - Devil's Trident EP
    Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life
    Daedelus - Love To Make Music To

    You know, I do want to include Hot Chip here, but I can’t. Yes, there’s a few fantastic, stand-out tracks (Don’t Dance, Out At The Pictures), but as a whole I found Made in the Dark rather patchy. But hey, that’s my opinion.
  • My Bloody Valentine - gigs?

    16. Nov. 2007, 19:30

    Crazy, I know! I never thought it would actually happen, but it has. My Bloody Valentine have actually reunited.

    I'm pissed off the ticket touts are now running rampant on eBay, but thanks to a bit of good fortune on the normal online ticket outlets, I've managed to bag two tickets to the Manchester date. Wow!

    It's 7 months away, and I'm still not sure if it actually will happen...we'll see.
  • Albums that changed my life (part of an occasional series)

    25. Jul. 2007, 21:17

    1) Loveless

    It was sometime in 1991 that I spotted it. It was in the music press (and for the life of me I can’t remember where I read it), but I read a glowing review of a band whose sound was likened to "a linoleum buffer scraping the surface off of your soul.' Wow. Such can be the power of words when it was enough to prompt me to visit my local record shop to seek out My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. It's powerful, certainly, when I can remember those words all these years later.

    (On reflection, I think this is one of the first pieces of music I bought in the CD format. Jesus, I’m getting old.)

    On first listen, I didn’t know what to think of it. It was unlike anything my teenaged self had heard before. Being a trained musician from a young age, I had perhaps more of an awareness of instrumentation than my peers at that time, but I still couldn’t figure out what the singing was about or how the band were making the sounds I was hearing. I remember being floored when I read the liner notes – guitar, bass, drums, sampler, vocals – I was baffled. Mind you, I wasn’t even quite sure what a sampler was then, which didn’t help matters, nor did listening to the CD with headphones. I found it almost impossible to separate each detail from the swirling thickness of sound. These were the days before I started playing in bands myself and learned more about the recording process and how a studio works. In all honesty, it wasn’t until several years later I realised just how incredible this album really is. That said, I think my naivety was part of what made (and still makes) Loveless special for me. It was about the joy of discovery and sheer wonder and love for sound.

    Eventually, as I listened to Loveless more and more, I stopped trying to pick it apart and just, well, listened. To me this sounded like the future. It spoke to me of new ideas, new territories and something far more interesting and cool than everything else around me at the time. And, most importantly, it played a key role in inoculating me with that (still) insatiable need to attain further sonic knowledge, to listen with a ravenous, attentive ear and to delight in the varying emotions and happiness music can give.
  • ATP: The Nightmare Before Christmas 2006

    27. Jan. 2007, 15:05

    I wrote this ages ago, so I probably should (finally) get around to posting it!


    Well, another All Tomorrow's Parties has come and gone. It's got to be my 5th or 6th time at the festival, but this time it was different; Instead of making our way down to Rye/Camber in East Sussex, it was off to Minehead in Somerset.

    For the first time, I took the train to the festival. Whoops. It started well enough, but due to a train breaking down in front of us, we had to wait for about an hour, thus missing our connection to Taunton at Reading. After checking schedules and with the personnel on hand, we were instructed to get the Penzance train which was going non-stop from Reading through to Exeter and to then double-back as this would be the fastest way to reach our destination. Well, apparently not. Once we were underway, the train manager on the Penzance-bound train informed us someone at Reading should've checked their timetable a bit more closely. Gah. So, off we went to Devon. We saw some lovely scenery and chalk horses en-route. Then, once arriving in Exeter, we didn't wait long to double-back on a stopping service. Once at Taunton, we had to get a bus to Minehead. This too was a bit of a disaster. We ended up in The Great British Queue™ waiting with several hundred people for buses that didn't come when they were meant to. All things considered, people were in good spirits, with ghetto boxes booming Melt Banana and general merriment all around. It was amusing though to watch the local Taunton people react to the hundreds of alt/indie/punk kids waiting for a bus to Butlins. I'm sure it must've looked very odd. We got there eventually, about 4 hours later than we should've, thus missing the first few bands.

    I did manage to catch the last few songs in Flipper's set (including Krist Novoselic - of Nirvana fame - on bass), but unfortunately I didn't see enough to say if it was any good or not. Melvins' twin drum attack was fierce! Deerhoof were their usual quirky and charming selves. Bardo Pond weren't as good as I'd hoped (but okay) and Charlambides were absolutely gorgeous. After that, I pretty much collapsed back at the chalet, as I'd had a long day of travelling and had a very busy week leading up to ATP. This did mean I missed The Dead C who I was curious about, but I really couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. I did spend most of the first night wandering around on my own, as I had no mobile signal and couldn't find anyone. I made the mistake of separating from Joe early on as we wanted to see different bands (and didn't bump into any of my other friends), but that was fine. The vibe of ATP is such that you always talk to people, and among others, I met a lovely couple who'd come all the way from Seattle just for the festival.

    Saturday began with a walk into Minehead, which was a lovely surprise. The beach was lovely, we hiked up a hill through a forest and had time to look through a few local shops (including a great deli, a traditional sweet shop and a dedicated cider shop - hell, it's Somerset so no surprise there!). Bands on Saturday included The New Blockaders & The Haters, who were the first proper 'noise' band. Their work has had a disproportional influence in the genre, so I went along out of general interest. It was abrasive. Next were Hair Police, who made a whole lot of chaos into actually something quite cohesive. Gang of Four didn't disappoint and were just as good as when I saw then at Primavera a few years ago. In my opinion, Flaherty, Corsano & Yeh gave one of the performances of the weekend. Dinosaur Jr were very LOUD (6 guitar amps and 4 bass amps!!), but fun (I'd not heard Feel The Pain in dog's years!). Sonic Youth's performance was phenomenal; I've seen them four times now and this was the best set I've seen to date - they were tight, had great sound and played a nice mix of old and new stuff. In fact, a lot of the new stuff from Rather Ripped sounded better than it does on the album. There was some attempts at clubbing afterwards, but we were thwarted by more queues (more on that in a bit).

    We awoke on Sunday to weather most foul. Thus there was a lot of chilling out in the chalet watching the ATP-curated TV channels (who knew that Johnny Rotten had been on Judge Judy standing accused of ripping off his tour drummer!?!), and then hanging out in the pub for a bit. Bandwise, I saw Bark Haze who is Thurston Moore and Andrew McGregor. This outfit certainly allows Thurston to indulge his more experimental side, and the slashing of guitars was actually very enjoyable. I also caught some of Aaron Dilloway a former member of Wolf Eyes, who plays with tape loops, voice and other bits of wire. This too I enjoyed. Negative Approach were a welcome change of pace to the experimental bands, with their brutal, nihilistic punk. It was fun! It was also neat to see the Wolf Eyes entourage and Thurston Moore rocking out on the sidelines clearly having just as much fun as the rest of the crowd. I know I saw Monotract as well, but can't remember too much about them - noisy stuff with a bit of structure, but clearly they didn't make much of an impression on me. I tried to see both Alexander Tucker and Six Organs of Admittance but was thwarted again by The Great British Queue™. Iggy And The Stooges were fun (including Mike Watt on bass!) with Iggy stage diving and encouraging active stage invasion, which was taken up by lots of people including Santa Claus (or his heir apparent). The funniest part of that set was Iggy moving around the punters on the stage while singing, and every time he passed an attractive young woman, he'd stop mid-sentence to say 'hey baby'. Jackie-O Motherfucker were okay, but didn't blow me away, and Be Your Own Pet gave a storming performance (their drummer is incredible as is the front woman!). I didn't make to see MC5 as, again, circumstances didn't allow. There was actually time for proper clubbing/disco going on Sunday, and hanging out in a friend's chalet, before it was time for bed in the small hours of Monday morning.

    As many of you know, I have waxed on ATP for a long time now, and one of the best things about this festival was the fact that you could see the big named acts in smaller than usual capacity, and the relaxed vibe about the whole thing. Bands/artists mixed with punters, and it was great. However, in the move from Pontins to Butlins a lot of that intimacy has been lost.

    The Queues Of Doom were a nuisance and I could've really done without them. Frankly, bits of it were utterly shambolic - Melvins, Deerhoof, Gang of Four and Dinosaur Jr all had to play extra shows because of the sheer number of people who failed to get into see them, and there was also a last minute wristband scheme for MC5. You know, I'm not saying organising something like this is easy, but you shouldn't have to put on extra shows. Having enough capacity so everybody can get in to see something (more than once there were queues in all three halls) should be part of basic planning, no?

    On the other hand the facilities at the new venue are much better, the town is really close and the chalets are much nicer even if they are further away.

    Despite the blips it was a great weekend.
  • I'm telling you now that it's the bland age...

    26. Okt. 2006, 8:05

    I've never been a big fan of Misty's Big Adventure, but this little gem on YouTube did make me smile today.
  • The Knife - Kentish Town Forum 14/10/06

    17. Okt. 2006, 21:36

    On Saturday evening, I spent my evening in North London. The Knife was in town and we had tickets for the sold-out gig. It didn't disappoint. It was an audio-visual extravaganza. The brother-and-sister duo slunk on to the stage and remained throughout in semi-darkness clad in black boiler suits and masks. The masks, like balaclavas, illuminated their eye sockets and mouths.

    The visuals, projected onto the back wall and the intervening gauze, were incredible. They created a strange, unsettling world of mazes and skewed dreamscapes. There were freak-formed stage props that mouthed along the backing vocal tracks while blinking not quite solidly at us, before morphing into skulls. Inside all of this, completely part of it, was the band. Consequently it was more a live action film of a Victorian-futuristic freak show dystopia, crossed with an art instillation. Actually, I'm not quite sure what this was, but this was a gig of dark sounds and darker thoughts and visually stunning.

    I have to admit, we couldn't exactly see everything that was going on on-stage, as we chose to stand near the sound desk to get the full visual effect, but another friend of mine who was also at the gig suggested something that I suspected; He was much closer to the front, and apparently there was a lot of miming going on. The reason I say that I wasn't surprised, is basically because was that there was no way the layers of sound and effects we could hear could've been done just by two people. I'm sure the vocals were live, and I thought perhaps some of the drumming was too, but I still enjoyed the spectacle on display, even though I wish it had been longer.

    Anyone else see this gig (or The Knife on their current tour)? What did you make of it?
  • Mazen Kerbaj

    4. Okt. 2006, 16:47

    I was pointed towards this a while ago, but I've only just listened to it. Wow.

    I've been listening to a minimalistic improvisation by Lebanese trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj 'duetting' with the Israeli Air Force as it bombards Mazen's home city of Beirut.

    It was recorded by Kerbaj on the balcony of his flat in Beirut on the night of 15/16 July 2006.

    You can find it at the The Wire's web exclusive's page.

    What do you think?