Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Keel Her - Riot Grrrl

Usually any song referencing riot grrrl sets me a little on edge (remember this atrocity anyone?) BUT all is well when placed in the hands of the wonderful Keel Her.

While the lyrics might be a little hard to make out at times, the chorus hook of 'F*ck me, in the backseat...' is a smash - think Bratmobile jamming with Jay Reatard, just crazy fun and under three minutes, so you're going to find yourself skipping back again and again and again until your throat's sore.


The song will be released on 7" via Critical Heights soon

Monday, 24 September 2012

Cold Pumas - Persistent Malaise

With what is quite frankly the best promotional 'photo' ever conjured (all thanks to the incredible talents of Flo Brooks), today Brighton cyclical enthusiasts Cold Pumas have announced the release of their debut longplayer, titled Persistent Malaise, on the 5th November (remember, remember). The album follows years of honing loops and pedals into a gripping musical mass, and forms a cathartic and devouring escapist panorama; an interval from the rush of life, a chance to lift above and beyond and onto an alternate expanse. Well, that's how their songs always make me feel, at least. Fortunately, their ceaseless live stamina has been committed to a recording without dilution - it's still very much a perennial structure, but a the pace occasionally calms, as vocals reach through the instrumentals and catch on the tips of the interwearving guitar lines. I don't want to give too much away by breaking it all down, as this record will force itself upon your turntable and stay put for many months to come, with intricacies becoming exposed with every listen. 

The vinyl is an edition of 500 on 180g black vinyl, reverse-board printed sleeve with spine and printed inner-sleeve. Includes digital download. The CD is an edition of 1000, housed in a reverse-board printed gatefold digifile sleeve. As Faux Discx note, the digital version is hovering just outside the Earth’s atmosphere and gets beamed down via satellites to your computer. This is certainly not any kind of mindless conveyor-belt production.

Persistent Malaise will be released on the 5th November between Faux Discx, Gringo Records and Italian Beach Babes. For starters, click below to get a free download of album cut 'Fog Cutter'.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Areca Grove - Colour Test

As well as being an awesome band in their own right, it's no secret that the men of Omi Palone have pretty great taste when it comes to music. Just listen to their Winter Mixtape (complete with cassette artwork) from last year.

And now, spurred on by a group of teenagers who now call themselves Areca Grove, in a move not unlike that found in the script of High Fidelity, Philip Zavier Serfaty, deep-voiced crooner of the 'Palone's, has started up a cassette label called Good Oscillations, to put out Areca Grove's first EP.

The EP will be released on a very limited number of cassettes (only 50 will be made, and no doubt will fly out within hours) and there'll also be a launch party in London on the 6th October to celebrate, where Jack Black may or may not be in attendance to take on Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On' in a cheesy yet loveable manner as everyone falls in love with each other. Or something.

Phil's description of Areca Grove sounding like "a surf 45 being played at 33 revolutions" is pretty damn spot on, as the song 'Colour Test' demonstrates, with warped, submerged vocals echoing around the melodic jangles. I've been coming back to the song every day this week, and I'm still not tired of the rumbling, far-off pop these guys have created.

Areca Grove - Colour Test by Good Oscillations

Areca Grove on Facebook

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Martha Wainwright - Proserpina

I have the absolute privilege of working on the new Martha Wainwright record, and as a big fan already, I've been happily savouring every spin of 'Come Home To Mama' on my way to work in the mornings. 'Proserpina' was one song that particularly caught my ear. Piano-led and emotionally raw, its lyrics fraught with anguish, Martha's delicate and moving delivery over accompanying strings was enough to send shivers.

As the title suggests, the narrative is based on the myth of Proserpina (named Persephone in Greek mythology); the goddess who was taken to the underworld and whose mother, Ceres, ceased the growth of fruits while she searched the earth for her missing daughter. Mercury was sent to retrieve her from the depths, but as Proserpina had eaten the food of the dead before leaving, she had to be returned to the Underworld for three months every year, symbolising the harsh winter months.

Written from Ceres' perspective, the song very much carries the weight of a loss, searching and tiring from grief and the unknown. It's particularly poignant that 'Proserpina' was the final song to be written by Martha's late mother, the wonderful Kate McGarrigle, before her passing in early 2010. Martha has said of her mother and brother, Rufus, “We wrote songs together, ever since we were children. As we sing her songs, I think her voice can be heard in ours, literally through our pipes.”

 Despite the shivers on the bus, I was fully unprepared for the unequivocal sadness and candor that the video would bring to the music. It's a stark and deeply personal performance, devoid of any big budget effects or gimmicks, with only the gradual changing of the seasons as a background, depicted from light scatterings of autumn leaves or snowflakes, as the light bursts and fades. Watching it feels almost like an intrusion, or even an uncomfortable confrontation of the viewer's emotions, too. It's so simple and stunningly beautiful.

Martha Wainwright: Proserpina on Nowness.com.
Dir. by Matthu Placek.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Watch: Last Shop Standing

I can only apologise for slacking off so much in the past few months. Blame it on this and this.

I'm breaking the silence to share news about a new documentary DVD that looks pretty great. As anyone who might have followed this blog a bit over the past year of so might have picked up on, record shops hold a very dear place in my heart. They were almost solely responsible for my musical education as a teenager - Stand Out Records (RIP) in Salisbury, my taste is all down to you and your wonderful and precise recommendations that you'd kindly put aside under the counter for me to collect after school. They were a place to bump into friends, to make new friends, have employed me throughout the post-Uni years and have reaffirmed my belief that the independent music sector is still as passionate and hardworking as ever before, especially given the current climate of music purchasing, constantly caught under an intimidating shadow that threatens the worth of music as a physical object; an object that deserves parting with cash for, rather than just clicking and taking for free.

I still find it strange to think that people now expect to be given the gift of music for free, to download and listen to badly compressed, filtered down sounds through crappy speakers and to honestly believe that they are owed it and deserve it without even considering that maybe, just maybe they should donate a bit of money to the creators that have given them such joy. I know there are legal downloading sites that many frequent, but personally, nothing beats a bit of human interaction, flicking through the racks so enthusiastically that your fingers start to catch and bleed, finding that forgotten record or pouring over the liner notes. John Waters says that if you go to prospective lover's and they don't have any books in the house, you shouldn't sleep with them. Without sounding too much like High Fidelity's protagonist, I say if you go to someone's house and there are no signs of records on their shelves, you should maybe just stick to being friends.

'Last Shop Standing' looks like a much-needed nostalgia fest-cum-kick up the arse. The trailer depicts many generations of music fans looking backwards, looking at the present and assessing the future of the beloved record shop, along with some 'Spot The Shop' shots of the UK's leading (and far too few) record stores. It's also a reminder that the diminishing numbers are getting even smaller, as the footage from Rounder Records in Brighton now carries a weight of sadness, given that the shop was forced to close its doors a few months ago, after 46 years of service to the community. Johnny Marr describes them as 'a library for the ears and the mind'; a statement that really does sum up what makes the lowly record shop such a special experience. Long may they continue to educate.

'Last Shop Standing' is out 10th September. And you don't need me to tell you where to pick up a copy from...