Another person has decided to tell me something about music. John McKenzie is one of the most accomplished session bass players around. His CV reads like a who’s who of popular music over the last three decades; from Bob Dylan to David Bowie, The Eurythmics to Shakira and some Lionel Richie on the side, you start to realise just how good this guy must be. Here are a few of his favourite songs…
My sister bought the single in 1966 and I just remember being dumbstruck by it! Everything… The vocal, the story ( “Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand…” quite in your face in the 1960’s) the guitar playing… To die for! I had just started getting into guitar, and this record left me dizzy with excitement; it opened my ears to rock music…… I became instantly addicted. My sister went crazy as I kept pinching it, and would play it over and over again……… The guitar solo when it comes, is almost orgasmic! Wonderful music. Keep reading here…
It’s getting to that kind of time when all sorts of festivals are starting to release their lineups and a few have got me pretty excited. First up is The Great Escape on the south coast. It’s a Camden Crawl style festival that sprawls all over Brighton from the 12th-14th of May and it’s being headlined by DJ Shadow, Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens. Yup. Big names. But they’ve also got Warpaint, Villagers, Brasstronaut, SBTRKT and PVT playing, among others. Tickets start at £45 for the earlybirds, so if this is whetting your appetite then get on it now.
This is another short one about a song I stumbled across and I’ve been listening to far too much! It’s a new Architecture In Helsinki song and it’s sooooo good. Yup, good enough to warrant me writing like a bloody emo. It’s got elements of the bits I love about AIH and a nice camp, dancy bit that’s a little reminiscent of Cut Copy. Who, incidentally, are compatriots of the band that this post is about. Anyway, I found this song and some other good ones here.
Well PJ Harvey is back. Big time! Her new album, Let England Shake, came out last week and it’s been garnering good review after good review. Seeing as there are so many out there, I shan’t add to them. Instead here are the two singles that have come off the album. The first is the rather excellent ‘Written On The Forehead’. Her voice has got a tremolo effect that combines with her almost falsetto singing to give the song a certain vulnerability. The reggae influenced backing track is excellent and the whole song slides along delightfully.
Fleet Foxes are back! They’ve given us a lovely little sneek peek of their new album, titled Helplessness Blues, due to come out May 3rd. This song is the title track off the album and it’s a return to form (not that they’ve had a dip, they just haven’t released anything in ages). The song starts slow and builds up, only for a swirling and harmonised ending to take over. It’s exactly what I was hoping for from the Seattle-based quintet. Give it a listen and if you like it you can download it totally legitimately for free. I guess there’s not much more to say other than I can’t wait for the third of May!
I was back up in Sheffield this weekend and I got talking to one of my friends about the blog. Anyway, to cut a long story short, James Batson is quite the fan of rap. And he said he’d send me some of his favourite West Coast tunes. Take it away, Jimmy…
If I was to pick 3 strictly West Coast licks, they would probably be…
Fatboy Slim. When people hear his name there are a few songs that pop into mind, but with it’s great video five and half minutes of quality this song is one of the first to be mentioned. And the vocal that goes on through the entire song comes courtesy of Camille Yarbrough. I found out about her version of the song thanks to another blog actually and if you’re prepared to part with your email address they’ll send you a free song a day too. Have a look over at Track In The Box. Anyway, she released the original back in 1975 and it couldn’t contrast Norman Cook’s version much more. When I hear it I can see myself in the late seventies kicking back in a cool New York bar with a liquor in one hand and a cigarette in the other. It’s smooth, jazzy and it’s oozes soul. Twenty-three years separate these songs and the ‘newer’ version is in it’s thirteenth year now, but they still sounds as awesome now as they did when they came out.
It would be difficult for me to hide that I’m a big Cut Copy fan. I’ve probably written about them three or four times in the short time that this blog has been going, and I’ve listened to them a whole lot more than that! But I can’t help it. There is something about their balls-out willingness to entertain in a record that I find tough not to give in to. So their new offering Zonoscope has got a lot to live up to.
Their previous two releases have been like fully mixed records: at times the little joining skits between the songs are as good as the songs themselves. Cut Copy have always made records you put on and listen to from start to finish; Zonoscope is no different, with the songs blending together to make a strong, atmospheric record.
The album kicks off with a soaring disco song in ‘Need You Now’ that has got more than a hint of New Wave about it. It also has the trademark Cut Copy whisps and flourishes to it. A good thing. Next in line is the first official single off the album that dropped back in November. When I first heard ‘Take Me Over’ I had high hopes for the album. It’s a decent pop song with a great bouncy bassline (pinched from Fleetwood Mac, but who cares?!). It is also incredibly difficult not to dance – or at the very least head bop – to. While it’s not the best song on the album, it will satisfy those of you who want to hear a pop-y, dance-y song early on. Click here for the rest of the review & a song…
Today let me tell you about True Ingredients. They’re a UK based hip hop collective who draw influences from the good old rap of the 80’s. Good sounding beats, live brass and some good fun lyrics come as standard. What I like most about their album is how varied it is. ‘Hell Yeah’ is a rocky, guitar-based track with some awesome sounding drums and a meaty lead part. A couple of songs later you’ve got a song that sounds like it was written and recorded in some Cubana bar; horns, an awesome bassline and a rapper who sounds like he could have been on the East Coast in the 90’s. For more, click here…
One of the first things that struck me about this album was that, aside the lead single ‘Limit To Your Love’ which came out October-time, I had not heard any of the songs before. This is even more refreshing when you consider that in the last 12 months James Blake has released 3 EP’s, all of which were very strong. The fact that he resisted the urge to put any of these songs on the album tells us two things: firstly that he’s written a lot of good songs and, secondly, that he’s probably got a lot more to come. I’d be surprised if this was his only offering in 2011.
The album opens with ‘Unluck’, which is a clear continuation of what we’ve heard over the past year. The synths and drum machine make me think of the Klavierwork EP, only left on its own to calm down for a bit. The next song, Wilhelms Scream (also the next single), continues this slow idea at the start, but it soon starts building up to a drop that never quite arrives. The way I see it this is a nice little critique at the stereotypical ‘club banger’ that has plagued the charts over the past couple of years. While it’s not an entirely comfortable song to listen to, you get to the end of it and feel oddly satisfied.
It is soon followed by the pair of Lindesfarne songs, the first of which uses reverb-laden, treated vocals to create a melancholy acapella song that is is asking for a Mount Kimbie or Burial rework. Maybe even something similar to what Devendra Banhart did with Phoenix’s ‘Rome’ (you can listen to that song here). What this first part does though is act as an introduction to one of the strongest songs on the album, Lindesfarne II. There will be many a comparison with Bon Iver here, understandably considering Blake said that For Emma, Forever Ago was one of his big influences while making this album. This is a very strong song that immensely listenable; I can pretty much guarantee that it’ll be one of the first songs you go back to after you get to the end of the album. Continue reading →
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