• [My Gang] Anna Calvi - Blackout : Reco of the Week 26 Apr 11

    Abr 26 2011, 14h37 por Babs_05

    Track: Blackout [Soundcloud]
    Artist: Anna Calvi
    Album: Anna Calvi (17 January 2011, Domino Records)
    [ We7 | Spotify | mflow ]
    Tags: , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, official video

    I've wanted to write about Anna Calvi since the beginning of January but had to wait; the only place her debut album was streaming was on the Guardian website and there were no videos yet.

    Since then, Anna Calvi has appeared on Later...with Jools Holland, the album is widely available online and there's a shiny new video for this week's recommendation, Blackout.

    Like the rest of the album, Blackout is all high drama, melodrama, passion and overblown sound. Here is a female vocalist writing romantic songs that comfortably compete with stadium rock artists such as Muse. Favourably compared with Nick Cave and PJ Harvey, the music is built on solid foundations; it is exquisite and detailed, both intimate and ranging, creating a sound that carries and sparkles as it goes.

    Then her voice, operatic, intense and powerful. Calvi allows her voice to stand on its own and doesn't try to embellish it with ornamentation. The raw power of her vocals delivered straight and the surreal David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti music together form an atmosphere of mystery and darkness at once disturbing and captivating, seducing the listener so nothing else matters.



    Blackout begins with an ethereal shimmer before the curtain goes up and the song bolts ahead. The beat sets a relentless, galloping pace as Calvi's vocals are allowed free rein. It's so atypical of contemporary pop, it holds you in its thrall throughout, leaving you a little spent come the end, itself as abrupt as the beginning.

    The video is very simple, focusing on Calvi and dazzling with glitter and lights. It serves not to detract from the song so you stay with it.



    When the album first appeared online on the Guardian website, I played it on repeat. I was taken by her voice, at times just a whisper and others, pure power, trembling as she controls it, the virtuoso guitar and nods to Ennio Morricone, flamenco, blues rock and classical. I found the sinister, menacing tones appealing and what impressed me most was the consistent theatricality that she maintains throughout, changing its shape and colour with every song. There is depth and intensity contrasted against light that comes from shimmers and relief after tension in the music is released. Themes are of love, lust and devils as she broods on fears and longings.

    Overriding everything is its sheer beauty. It's in your face with filigree and shadow. The album doesn't make for a light listen and I left it alone for a while, but I'm going to see her in concert tomorrow, hence the revisit and my choice for this week.


    Further reading:

    BBC review
    The Quietus review
    Pitchfork review
    The Line Of Best Fit - interview with Anna Calvi
    The Line Of Best Fit review



    Babs

    - My Gang

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    Admin: Stats as of today:

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    Video
    Date Added: Mar 15, 2011
    Views: 61,079, Comments: 36, Likes: 402, Dislikes: 10, Ratings: 412, Favorites: 517


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  • [My Gang] Stereolab - Pause : Reco of the Week 12 Apr 11

    Abr 12 2011, 16h26 por Babs_05

    Track: Pause
    Artist: Stereolab
    Album: Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements (Elektra, 1993)
    [ We7 | Spotify | mflow ]
    Tags: , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, audio upload


    To celebrate the shiny new pause function for Last.fm radios [blog post], this week's recommended track is Pause by post-rock pioneers Stereolab from the classic Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements.

    Pause has one of them, a pause, just before the final minute when the track changes tack completely and becomes something else, ramping up the noise and painful distortion. Before that, dream pop is mixed with keyboards, noise, distorted spoken word, drone and fuzzy rock which, with their clever treatment and those gorgeous progressions, offers a moment to stop and reflect before the 18 minute masterpiece, Jenny Ondioline.



    'The Groop's' American debut was not without its problems; the majority of the first 1500 vinyl copies had to be destroyed because of bad pressing quality and one of the tracks had to be re-recorded:

    The original version of this LP had a George Harrison sample on 'Pack Yr Romantic Mind' for which we were denied clearance - we had to re-record the track without the sample but Elektra had already manufactured some promo cassettes with the sample. [Official site]



    Though I was aware of Stereolab in the 90s, like a lot of people, I never really got into them. I appreciated they were good, admired what I heard, but bought something else. Me and everyone else, by the look of things. There is much high praise for 'the groop' and a similar guilt in a lot of user reviews. If I wasn't searching Last.fm for a song with the word 'pause' in the title today, I wouldn't have found this album.

    The sound is ahead of its time for 1993 (when I was mostly listening to Saint Etienne's Foxbase Alpha and feeding my head with Megadog compilations). From Stereolab's inventiveness came both post-rock and britpop, Damon Albarn being a particular fan.

    Stereolab either legitimized forms of music that were on the fringe of rock, or brought attention to strands of pop music -- bossa nova, lounge-pop, movie soundtracks -- that were traditionally banished from the rock lineage. The group's trademark sound -- a droning, hypnotic rhythm track overlaid with melodic, mesmerizing singsong vocals, often sung in French and often promoting revolutionary, Marxist politics -- was deceptively simple, providing the basis for a wide array of stylistic experiments over the course of their prolific career. Throughout it all, Stereolab relied heavily on forgotten methods of recording, whether it was analog synthesizers and electronics or a fondness for hi-fi test records, without ever sinking to the level of kitsch. [allmusic]


    Once again, Last.fm wins hands down as my favourite music discovery site. I voted as much here. I like a lot of the other music sites too, but I didn't find this track on them and they didn't make me want to listen to Stereolab's entire discography, so fair's fair. Be sure to submit your vote too.



    Further reading:

    Stereolab - official site - discography
    Stylus Magazine - review
    Wikipedia - Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements
    allmusic.com - album review



    Babs

    - My Gang

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    Date Added: Feb 2, 2009
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  • [My Gang] FOUND – Shallow : Reco of the Week 15 Mar 11

    Mar 15 2011, 17h27 por Babs_05

    Track: Shallow [ Spotify | We7 | Soundcloud ]
    Artist: Found
    Album: factorycraft (Chemikal Underground, 14 Mar 2011)
    [ Spotify | We7 | mflow | Bandcamp | Soundcloud ]
    Tags: , , , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, edit of Shallow


    They had me at I only ever wanted to put my tongue in your dimples.

    My recommendation of the week is the standout track, Shallow, from the new album, factorycraft, released this week.

    Characterised by melty shoegaze swoons, surfy garage and Cocteau Twins pedal board, this catchy track shimmers whilst it bounces, slipping and sliding along the way. It is the only one on the album to have this treatment, making it memorable and moreish. The video, frustratingly, is only an edit. There isn't a full video for this track yet.

    [Ziggy Campbell on Shallow]: This track was painfully difficult to get sounding right at Chem 19. Paul Savage agonised over it. At one point I declared it a complete write-off before Paul turned it round and managed to make it (in my opinion) one of the finest moments on Factorycraft. It’s a eulogy to all the empty factories, shops and houses in my dying hometown. (The Skinny)

    I was torn between this and album closer, Blendbetter.
    [Ziggy Campbell] The lyrics for this one include a slightly out of place nod to 80s blue-eyed soul boys Hue & Cry. I’ll say no more on that matter. We used a deliberately out-of-tune guitar and a sample of a hoover to create the moody, sci-fi inspired backdrop to this song. The outro features the only live drums on the entire record, which I insisted on playing much to everyone’s annoyance… because I’m painfully shite. We recorded all the vocals in one day due to a tight budget. I remember screaming the last colourful line of this tune right before my voice packed in. (The Skinny)


    (Source: MySpace)



    Formed in Aberdeen and now based in Edinburgh, FOUND do exactly that, take what they find and see what they can do with the sound it makes.
    FOUND began life as an experimental arts collective putting on many weird and wonderful events in art galleries, warehouses and even storage containers.

    Their most recent project, an emotional robot band called Cybraphon, captured the attention of the world’s press. Since its unveiling at the Edinburgh International Festival at the start of August, Cybraphon has been featured on national newspapers across the world (e.g. China, Brazil, Italy, Spain, UK), made the top story on the homepage of WIRED.com and has been covered by CNN and TV networks internationally including BBC’s primetime arts show The Culture Show. In November 2009 Cybraphon won a Scottish BAFTA in the Best Interactive category.

    FOUND made their American debut at SXSW in March 2009 and followed up with a string of performances at CMJ in October 2009 where Brooklyn Vegan picked them out as ones to watch. In the UK they have built up a strong fan base and highlights of their live career to date include the BBC Electric Proms, T in the Park, Triptych, Brighton’s Great Escape, the Fence Collective’s ‘Homegame’ festival and Hydro Connect Festival. (Official site)




    The album has a lo-fi, roughly finished sort of feel to it, with space for the sounds to breathe. Lead singer Ziggy doesn't disguise his Scottish accent, notably on Johnny I Can't Walk The Line, with the line Johnny I just cannae / Cannae walk the line. This track has one foot in OMD and the other in Ennio Morricone.

    Album opener, Anti Climb Paint, features Nuala Kennedy on harmony. It sets the tone with jagged edged but gentle folk rock that sits apart from the average. It's the second track, I'll Wake With A Seismic Head No More, where my favourite line (above) comes from, that tells you how intelligent this album is. Machine Age Dancing is the most commercial sounding track and is followed by the glam Blackette. By this point, you're listening beyond the familiar indie rock to the glitchy electronica and whirrs and squeaks, admiring what they're doing with it. And this is where Shallow comes in. The second half of the album is slightly overshadowed by this track but carries on regardless, finishing on the brilliant psychedelic Blendbetter.

    This album is outside the box whilst standing within it. The music spills out and soars around you, dazzling and confusing with its unexpected twists and references, done in a familiar and acceptable way. This is how you push people beyond their comfort zones without them feeling it.




    Further reading and info:

    http://foundtheband.com/
    Twitter: @foundtheband http://twitter.com/#!/foundtheband
    MySpace
    Facebook
    BBC review
    FOUND’s Factorycraft: a track by track tour by Ziggy Campbell, 01 Mar 2011

    Babs

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    (Ziggy Campbell, Tommy Perman, Kev Sim | Source: Flickr)


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  • [My Gang] Take That - Eight Letters : Reco of the Week 04 Jan 11

    Jan 4 2011, 16h19 por Babs_05

    Track: Eight Letters
    Artist: Take That
    Album: Progress (Polydor Nov 2010) [ We7 | Spotify ]
    Tags: , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, audio upload


    Happy New Year!!


    You can look back
    But don't stare


    This morning saw the second of the eclipses, the first of which took place a couple of weeks ago.

    Today's was a solar eclipse. The most stunning image to come from it was this by astrophotographer Thierry Legault:



    See this blog post for more on the background and what one of those spots is (it's not a sun spot).

    So what does it mean, potentially? It's the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. It's major change. The solar eclipse will affect everyone differently and its influence will last for many months.

    You may know what that change needs to be. With this in mind, I chose Take That's closing track, Eight Letters, from their latest album, Progress.

    The eight letters could be 'I love you', but they could also be 'I am sorry', or 'I miss you'.

    The track is charged with emotion, the tone melancholic though the music is rousing. The push/pull makes it one of the standout tracks on the album and my favourite. Coldplay use the same powerful technique for their music. It makes the music sentimental, leaving the listener feeling moved. It also makes the track nostalgic and memorable. Like Coldplay, it is a piano ballad.

    The chorus samples Ultravox's Vienna. Midge Ure and other members of the band are credited. Midge Ure tweeted "Check out Take Thats new song '8 letters' It has been written with a good deal of Vienna in mind.All in collaboration with us.UltraThat!"

    And when I went away
    What I forgot to say
    Was all I had to say
    Eight letters, three words, one meaning


    The last line of the chorus, 'eight letters, three words, one meaning' reminds me of a similar line from an old classic, but I can't put my finger on the name of the song. If it comes to me, I'll edit this. In the meantime, if anyone knows the one I mean, please post it in the comments. (it's bugging me!)

    Produced by Stuart Price (New Order, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Missy Elliott, Scissor Sisters, The Killers, Pet Shop Boys, Brandon Flowers, Gwen Stefani, Seal, Keane and Frankmusik) the album is all electronica and synthpop, recalling other 80s bands, ending on the ethereal 'hidden' bonus track, Flowerbed, which is pure Goldfrapp but with male vocals.

    It debuted at number one in the UK, becoming the second fastest-selling album of all-time, and became the biggest-selling album of the year 24 days after its release with one million copies sold. (Wikipedia) It was critically well received and was the Sunday Times album of the week, rated 5/5.
    Most hearteningly, Progress will be musically one of the oddest, most experimental No 1 albums in years. Far from complacently hitting the default buttons, Gary Barlow and co sneak bizarre textures - minimal electro-noir, operatic bombast, skewed disco, techno rock - across the threshold on songs such as Happy Now and Wait (both of which Pet Shop Boys would be proud to call their own), Eight Letters, SOS and the hidden extra Flowerbed [...] (Dan Cairns, Sunday Times, 14 Nov 10)
    (... cont'd)



    I don't have any of their earlier albums, though I grew up hearing the big singles, of course. This is the only Take That album I own. I wasn't sure on first listen, I liked some and didn't like others so much. It took a few plays for it to all come together and for me to appreciate all the elements. After Eight Letters and Flowerbed, Affirmation stands out for being a little odd, Pretty Things for being pretty, and the first track, lead single The Flood which sets the tone.

    What kind of year are we in for? My wish was for a nice, quiet, boring one. I was going to pick Radiohead's No Surprises for this week's journal, but then what about special occasions and birthdays? No, that wouldn't do.

    From 3rd February, it will be the Chinese year of the Metal Rabbit, which means peace, tranquility and diplomacy. However, the Metal element gives it a competitive, aggressive, cold and sometimes insensitive edge. This is the first Year of the Metal Rabbit since 1951.

    Forewarned is forearmed. Tin hats and fluffy cushions then.

    Wishing everyone love, luck and of course, peace, for 2011.



    Babs

    - My Gang

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    Admin: Stats as of today:

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    Date Added: November 20, 2010
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  • [My Gang] Neil Young – Angry World : Reco of the Week 21 Sept 2010

    Set 21 2010, 22h09 por Babs_05

    Track: Angry World
    Artist: Neil Young
    Album: Le Noise (28 Sept 2010)
    Tags: , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, official video

    Angry world. Got that right. Used to be a Mad World. Now it's an angry one.

    Suitably aggressive, dirgey, sludgy guitar noise that, like Grinderman, is perfectly controlled without seeming so. There are no drums. There's no band either. Production is super-polished with all the jagged edges coming from intense electro/acoustic guitars. Despite the title, it doesn't leave you feeling angry, just fascinated at how they created those sounds.

    The video was shot by visual artist Adam CK Vollick in producer Daniel Lanois's home.

    The album is streaming in full at NPR this week, ahead of release. The distorted guitars feature throughout. The absence of drums calms the music down. Downtempo and contemplative, for noise rock, it's pretty soothing.

    Probably "NSFW" is The Hitchhiker (YouTube official video) with its references to every drug going.


    (Photo: MySpace)


    Old school though he may be, the new album will be available for purchase on iTunes, CD, and vinyl, and later in November it will be available in Blu-ray and as a free iPhone and iPad app which will have an interactive album cover. If this is what Neil Young is doing with his new album, one can only begin to imagine what Radiohead might have up their sleeve for theirs.

    As a side note, apparently he only recorded on nights when there was a full moon. There's a full moon this week. No wonder he wrote about an angry world and was able to take those guitars to another level.

    http://www.neilyoung.com/


    Babs


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    Video
    Date Added: September 16, 2010
    Views: 29,224, Ratings: 196, Comments: 128, Favourites: 172


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    Last.fm listeners of this track - 443
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  • [My Gang] Low – Monkey : Reco of the Week 14 Sept 2010

    Set 14 2010, 20h43 por Babs_05

    Track: Monkey
    Artist: Low
    Album: The Great Destroyer (Sub Pop 2005)
    Tags: , , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, official video


    This week's reco is the mighty Monkey by Low which has been covered by Robert Plant on his new album, Band of Joy, out this week. I would have liked to have presented Plant's version but there isn't an accompanying video yet. You can listen to it at a number of places this week, including NPR.

    Monkey is post-rock slowcore and came from the minimalist 'quiet is the new loud' movement that some indie artists explored in the mid-00s. The pace is downtempo and heavy with a thudding beat. Lyrics are quietly sung, almost whispered in places and at times, barely audible. The technique forces you to draw closer and concentrate harder. It demands and gets attention far more effectively than louder music and holds on to it till the end. The music crosses both the 90s and 00s in style and has a haunting feel to it.



    The video is more style than substance, focusing on visuals and some narrative of the band being abducted by aliens. The monkey soft toy stands out. It's snowing and the band members are wrapped up against the cold. It's winter music.

    Robert Plant's version is similar though less indie and more sinister. Patty Griffin provides the harmony, each singing close to the mic whilst Buddy Miller creates guitar soundscapes colder and more alienating than the original. As much as I love Low's original, and I have the track in one of my most frequently played Last.fm personal radios, I think Plant's version transcends theirs. It's more pared back, there's even less detail than the original, yet there is so much more.



    Having avoided as much hype as I could in the run up to the release of Band Of Joy, I didn't realise it was a covers album until I was listening to his version of Monkey and recognised some of the lyrics. Taking a closer look, I find it's the two Low covers that stand out for me the most, Monkey and Silver Rider, both from the same album.

    I grew up hearing Led Zeppelin on the radio. They form part of the soundtrack of my life and nothing they have done phased me. Thinking on it, I think it's quite incredible I took so much for granted, but you do when it's everyday.

    Listening to Band of Joy this week is like a journey back to my childhood as well as a clever revisit to just four/five years ago. Further to that, there's an unmistakable continuance of the work Plant started with Alison Krauss on Raising Sand in 2007. Plant crosses time and brings together the decades with a sharp eye on the future. Boundaries are pushed and pummeled whilst some of the references remain firmly grounded. The Led Zeppelin magazine, Tight But Loose, described it as "the only sound that matters this autumn". See their article for a track-by-track breakdown and some reviews from other papers. If you use mflow, they selling it for £2.99 just for this week.



    Babs


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    Low:
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    Robert Plant:
    Last.fm listeners of this track - 913
    No. of plays scrobbled in Last.fm - 1,426
    Position in Last 7 Days: 2 / 805
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    Date Added: May 04, 2007
    Views: 46,410, Ratings: 175, Comments: 81, Favourites: 177


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    Low:
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    No. of plays scrobbled in Last.fm - 159,948
    Position in Last 7 Days: 2 / 405
    Position in Last 6 Months: 4 / 5,038

    Robert Plant:
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    No. of plays scrobbled in Last.fm - 5,776
    Position in Last 7 Days: 4 / 2,505
    Position in Last 6 Months: 441 /8

    Video
    Views: 47,296, Ratings: 177, Comments: 82, Favourites: 180

    125 Unique Visitors
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  • [My Gang] Matthew Dear – Little People (Black City) : Reco of the Week 31 Aug 2010

    Ago 31 2010, 16h32 por Babs_05

    Track: Little People (Black City)
    Artist: Matthew Dear
    Album: Black City
    Tags: , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, audio upload


    One of the tracks that will define the summer of 2010 will be this one from Matthew Dear - Little People (Black City).

    At over nine minutes long, in three sections roughly divided into three minutes each, it is a highlight from a near perfect album.


    (Source: MySpace)


    Black City is darker and poppier than earlier work, taking it away from dance floor fillers to appeal to the wider world. Weird catchy little hooks, unexpected words in strange lines and otherworldly imagery typify the new direction. His vocals are deep and mannered, recalling the style of many artists of the early 80s, who in turn were inspired by Bryan Ferry. This is music for gentlemen in suits and long overcoats, the brims of their hats obscuring a dash of black eyeliner.

    The nod to the past doesn't stop there. Beginning with early 80s post-punk, art-rock and new romantics, we have funky grooves, mid-80s hip-hop, old skool club classics of the early 90s, right up to the morose tones of The xx, who Dear has remixed for.



    The darkness is sexy. It's the sleazy, sweaty, dirty variety from shady corners of nightclubs. Unlike earlier albums, all the track names are 'safe for work', again appealing to a wider market, but the sexiness remains and if anything, is intensified for the restraint.

    That's just the umbrella. Embedded in the layers as you go deeper are details which only reveal themselves on repeat listen or on headphones. Tiny quirks, little flashes of sound, odd rhythms. They can throw you off your stride as you dance, catching you off guard and cause you to wonder what happened if you're following them. Glamourous little jewels to catch your attention.

    The album closes with the emotional Gem, a beautiful, ethereal ambient piano piece with Dear's vocals over distorted, distant vocals in the background and choral oohs.

    Matthew Dear is described as one of America’s foremost minimal techno producers, with a career that goes back about ten years. He and Sam Valenti IV created the record label, Ghostly International. Over the decade, he has remixed for and collaborated with others, and worked under a number of aliases, including Audion. He lists Talking Heads, David Bowie, Adonis, Nitzer Ebb, and Roman Flügel as inspirations.




    Babs


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    Position in Last 7 Days: 2 / 2,228
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    Date Added: August 09, 2010
    Views: 8,293, Ratings: 10, Comments: 5, Favourites: 96

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    Last.fm listeners of this track - 7,093
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    Position in Last 7 Days: 2 / 1,993
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    Views: 11,445, Ratings: 10, Comments: 5, Favourites: 117



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  • [My Gang] Philip Selway – The Ties That Bind Us : Reco of the Week 24 Aug 2010

    Ago 24 2010, 16h19 por Babs_05

    Track: The Ties That Bind Us [ Stream till 31 Aug - NPR ]
    Artist: Philip Selway
    Album: Familial (Bella Union, 30 Aug 10)
    Tags: , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, audio upload, from 7 Worlds Collide

    It has been difficult to pick a track from this album, so I chose the one that caught my attention and had me humming along, The Ties That Bind Us.

    As usual, I avoided the hype till I heard the music first, although it was no easy task as anticipation for this album has been feverish. Listening without prejudice, only knowing he was from Radiohead and having heard the first track, By Some Miracle, I heard something that at first reminded me of Richard Hawley, then after a few listens, I changed my mind and thought of Bon Iver, Nick Drake and Charlotte Gainsbourg. There's a slightly Gallic/European feel to the folk music, especially on A Simple Life. The way his soft falsetto voice hugs and holds the melodies reminds me quite a lot of the sensual Gainsbourg.

    What it isn't is anything like Radiohead. And considering it's the debut solo album of a drummer, it's light on drums.



    The track itself also appears on Neil Finn's project in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières, 7 Worlds Collide - The Sun Came Out, released exactly a year ago, which features Ties That Bind Us along with The Witching Hour, as well as as a live version on two AshTapes mixtapes, under the name Phil Selway.

    The Ties That Bind Us is about family, responsibility and the desire to protect.

    A family man himself, in his 40s with a wife and three children, he explores the themes universal to the 'sandwich generation', children on one side and ageing parents on the other - Broken Promises. An album all about the family could easily be mawkish or maudlin. What we have here instead is exquisite folky rock and honesty. The more you listen, the more comes out. The first is pretty, the second starts to get interesting. Half a dozen or more later and you're reaching for the Kleenex as you find yourself agreeing with him. Because when you have your priorities straightened, the rule is: family first. And this is as good as it gets.

    Wait a minute
    It's all gone south
    What's the matter
    I'm all talked out
    I wanna show you another way
    I wanna shield you from my mistakes


    Also featuring on the album are Lisa Germano, Sebastian Steinberg, Wilco's Glenn Kotche and Pat Sansone.



    Whilst he didn't have to go half way up a mountain or to darkest Peru to write and record this album - how could he - the sense of intimacy and sincerity we're used to from artists such as Bon Iver and Nick Drake is there. The songs are thoughtful, the music meditative. It's songs to relate to, music to reflect to. An album by a Dad for Dads. There's criticism that there's not enough energy in the music, but really, anyone who says that isn't a parent. The softness that characterises the album is the calm oasis that is a precious rarity in a busy, noisy family. That's the point. Sometimes, jangled nerves don't need more jangling. You have to get to a point where every sound physically hurts to appreciate that.

    Instead of stating the obvious, the music looks to subtleties with dark, haunting melodies, unexpected arrangements and instruments, and memorable lyrics. The Ties That Bind Us features a euphonium and flugelhorn. The album opens with a whisper on By Some Miracle. Beyond Reason sounds excitingly Spanish with hints of Radiohead. Don't Look Down sounds a bit like Terry Jacks - Seasons in the Sun and has a wild piano that runs away discordantly. Little bells shimmer on Falling. Lisa Germano's harmonies are so delicate, you almost complete them in your head.

    It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world. We don't stop and stare often enough. That's what this album is. An opportunity to stop and just be.


    MySpace
    BBC Review
    Billboard interview


    Babs


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  • [My Gang] Shamantis – J. Biebz - U Smile 800% Slower : Reco of the Week 17 Aug 2010

    Ago 17 2010, 18h58 por Babs_05

    Track: U Smile Ambient [ Stream/download Soundcloud ]
    Artist: Shamantis
    Album: To be released later this year
    Tags: , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, audio upload

    This is the sound of 2010. Justin Bieber made not just palatable but downright beautiful. I haven't seen a single comment from anybody saying they didn't like it, and it's all over the internet today, even being picked up by MTV and NPR. A quick Google search for "bieber 800%" brings me over 800,000 results. The track was only 'released' last night.

    The video, at just under ten minutes, is merely an excerpt. The whole piece comes in at around thirty five minutes.

    The track is Justin Bieber's U Smile put through a piece of free opensource software called Paulstretch. Hand on heart, I haven't heard the original, not being a fan, so I can't compare, but this version brings to mind Sigur Rós, This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno and Robin Guthrie. The waves are the percussive sounds, digital snares and cymbals, stretched so they crash and roll.

    Sonic State stretched a picture of Justin Bieber by 800%, giving a visual idea of what's happening with the sound:



    I'm not sure how everyone will tag this track or how it will appear in the charts next week. When you download it, it comes up as "U Smile Ambient", which is what I've gone with. Attribute it to the artist Shamantis.

    Shamantis is 20 year old Nick Pittsinger of Tampa, Florida. From his MySpace: "[He] is an avid musician, composer/songwriter, and producer. He has had intensive jazz music theory training, and continues to push the envelope of sound by incorprating [sic] genres from traditional hindustani music to new and experimental forms of goa and down-tempo."

    His track is so good, some very naughty people stole it and put it on their Bandcamp page, claiming it as their own. Fortunately, it looks like that little drama is resolved now. All this in less than 24 hours. Things happen fast on the internet.



    2010 is the year of Justin Bieber bashing, with everyone from the bad boys and girls of 4chan onwards getting in on the act. Bashing him is as much a meme as it is a reaction against manufactured teeny pop. Both YouTube and Last.fm suffered Bieber attacks on 4th July, with links and images replaced with porn. Around the same time, cheeky 4chan raced to get Bieber to perform in North Korea, after there was a poll asking fans where they would like him to appear.

    In Twitter, he is invariably in the top ten trending topics on a daily basis. Yesterday, Mashable reported that Bieber tweeted his phone number on Saturday. He received 26,000 texts.

    Inexplicably, there is also this website: Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber.



    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Whilst this bashing is going on, there are thousands upon thousands of genuine Bieber fans the world over, mostly children (I presume). One can only wonder at the impact global abuse towards their idol must be having on them. Nobody did this to earlier child stars such as Millie, Little Jimmy Osmond, the young Michael Jackson, Hanson or Britney Spears, for example, at least not to this extent.

    Bieber bashing is a unique phenomenon of 2010 and the age of social networking, widely available broadband internet, and the disparity between what the media promotes and what the public wants. It wasn't so long ago that something was advertised and we were conditioned to want it because they said so. With various blockers for the internet and time-shift television, we need not view an advertisement if we don't want to. We are left to make our own decisions and word of mouth counts as much as, if not more than, paid promotion.

    It would also be fair to say that this is one of the symptoms of the demise of the music industry and its desperate attempts to rake in money by creating 'paint by numbers' pop bands. There are more bands around today, and more music to listen to, than there ever has been since charts began in the 1950s. This includes everyone from bedroom artists and independents to those signed to major labels.

    To my mind, it makes perfect sense that people react strongly when someone, reduced to a 'product', is over-promoted to the point there is no escape. In the past, when mass media amounted to a few channels on television, the press and public radio, if you didn't like something, you turned over or turned the page. Today's mass media tries harder, and the harder it tries, the less we pay attention. I see Bieber bashing as the public's response to the barrage attack from the music industry and his fans alike, who dominate every platform.

    Not that I condone bashing anyone, just that I understand it isn't personal to Bieber or any of his fans. It's a reaction against the machine.



    Babs


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  • [My Gang] Janelle Monáe – Cold War : Reco of the Week 10 Aug 2010

    Ago 10 2010, 18h23 por Babs_05

    Track: Cold War
    Artist: Janelle Monáe
    Album: The ArchAndroid (July 2010)
    Tags: , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, official video


    My recommendation this week is by Janelle Monáe, taken from her debut, The ArchAndroid.

    I almost don't want to spoil it for anyone by describing anything. I'd like people to listen without expectation and make their own minds up, as I did. Because to describe Monáe properly, and to do her debut justice, I have to use a lot of big words that mean she is completely amazing, and in this age of hypetastic reviews, aren't they all. But she is.

    One of the customer reviews in Amazon has it right, talking about Prince, who adores her, by the way. You could say she picks up from where Prince left off. Those mad, eclectic early albums of his that stood out from the crowd on release and still hold their own thirty years later, his originality, ingenuity, youth and energy all seem to have been transposed into this young artist.

    I'm trying to hold back.



    Every genre and the kitchen sink is in this album. After half a dozen listens, I still can't say I know it. There are pop gems, like the track I have chosen, that have immediate impact, but there are others that will hold my attention for years to come, figuring them out, admiring them from various angles, playing them again and again.

    I'm so lucky. My friends told me about her for some time, but no one breathed a word about what to expect. I saw her attributed genre was R&B and thought I knew what she would be like. I knew nothing. I even checked her out a year ago for one of my groups, but I don't remember anything like this. So in a break from the usual presentation, I'm telling you as little as possible. My gift to you.



    Cold War is the sixth track and is about independence and loneliness. Bouncy and fast, it's not a track to sit still through, yet the video will have you do nothing else. Arresting and recalling Sinéad O'Connor's iconic video for her cover of Prince's Nothing Compares 2 U, the video is a tight close-up on Monáe's face against a dark background shot in one take. Same shaved hair, expressive eyes, minimal make up and even a tear are the stark similarities between the two.

    Now I shan't breathe another word. I want you to stop in your tracks in wonder on your first listen of this album, too. Then you'll do what I'm doing: look her up in Google and discover all those glowing reviews everyone's written.


    Further reading (if you really must know more before you listen):
    - Official Site
    - The Quietus review
    - BBC review
    - The Guardian review
    - Blog Critics review
    - Pitchfork review


    Babs


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    Date Added: August 05, 2010
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