Writing by Neil Kulkarni

Sunday, 25 May 2014

SHIT TO READ AND HEAR THIS BANK HOLIDAY

19:47 Posted by neil kulkarni , No comments

Thanks to the 405 for hooking me up on the gitlist for Prince 2 weeks ago, for which I thought this review was the least I could do.

Oh and here's a mix of all the music I've dug in the past two months. All tracks released in April/May or soon to be released. Enjoy, share, donate if you fancy more.

F.U.N.K RADIO SUMMER Pt1 by Neil Kulkarni on Mixcloud

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

PRINCE, HIT & RUN PT. II TOUR, LG ARENA, BIRMINGHAM, 15/05/14

10:08 Posted by neil kulkarni , , No comments
(thanks to Wil at the 405 for the hook-up)


SO, there are those great gigs you go to. Those good gigs you go to. Those bad gigs you go to. All seem to exist on the same scale. This was off the scale in every way. This was so good, halfway through your mind was making cast-iron assurances that tomorrow you’d quit your job, quit your life, quit everything just to dedicate the rest of your paltry existence to chasing . . . this, this night, these feelings, this turning of yourself inside out. This was so good I’ve started seeing my life ever since, at least in those rare moments where the palpitations have stopped, in two distinct stages. There was my life up to this night, and now I’m starting the second phase of my life after this night. My pre-seeing-Prince years are gone now. Nothing I learned in them can help me now. I’m now in my post-seeing-Prince years. They will be productive.
   Never seen him before, never thought I’d get the chance. £75 quid a pop was too rich for my blood. Craven and shameless begging on twitter got me on the gitlist. Only found out on the morning. Whole day a dizzying exhausting mix of dealing with reality, barely able to apprehend any importance in the day-to-day shit I was doing, unable to truly comprehend what I would be going to see. I was going to see fkn PRINCE. Not just another singer, not just another gig – this man, and I count myself among innumerable ugly Asian guys in the 80s in this - wasn’t just a musical bomb in that decade and in my life, he proffered the possibility that being a short-arsed hairy brown person you could also be cut from God’s own image. On the way out of Cov we find ourselves following a massive limo, doubtless just some gig-goers who decided to make a night of it, but we convince ourselves it’s Mr.Nelson himself, hid in the back with nothing but a few copies of The Watchtower and his make-up artist for company. Something about the limo, blacked out, no decals about ‘available for hire’, had us following, stalker-like, from a safe two-second-rule distance. Eventually, halfway up the A45 it pulls into a Texaco. We debate pulling in as well, surmise rightly that if it was the Purple One stopping off for a snack it’d be his driver who he’d send in for his Ginsters Spicy Slice, so stay on the road, get to the LG, park, walk, judging our fellow fans on whether they’re wearing purple. A crush, and we’re in, and we’re waiting, heart trembling, listening to the smartly-chosen ‘Big Fun’-era Miles Davis that’s getting everyone tenser and tenser, and we still can’t quite believe that we’re here. We’re gonna wake up in a minute. This can’t be real.

   Deliberate false-starts. Third time’s the charm. Curtain drop. FUCK ME IT’S REALLY HIM. Looking stunning, looking like the kind of cat Marc Bolan would drop a couplet on. Silk pyjama jumpsuit, lightly-flared, beautiful. IT’S REALLY HIM. THIS IS REAL. AND IT’S REALLY HAPPENING. RIGHT NOW. IN FRONT OF US. From then on the thoughts, the impossibility of ‘thoughts’ – come too thick n fast n creamy to be chronologically delineated and kiss my arse if you think I could take ‘notes’ so let’s break it down thusly.


1.   The band. Fuck me what a band. 3rdEyeGirl are blazing, funky like playing pocket billiards with planet-sized-cojones, HEAVY as hell. When Ida Nielsen hits that fuzz pedal on ‘Musicology’ her bass turns into this thing of coruscating electric wonder, NOISE at stadium-sized affect. And Hannah Ford’s drumming throughout is a thing of rolling joy and bliss and drama – there’s times when she’s so funky she sounds like a dub-production is being enacted on what she’s playing as she’s playing it. Astonishing musicians, locked in from the off, no ‘warming up’, just instant white heat and black power. And Donna Grantis is Prince’s perfect foil on guitar, great enough to match him lick for lick but able to step back and provide perfect Jimmy Nolen-style scratchy backing when the man wants to get lurid and loose on the simmering ‘Empty Room’.  3rdEyeGirl are genuinely the heaviest thing I’ve ever seen at the LG, even heavier than AC-DC were a few years back and that’s fucking heavy. The loudness and the glory.



2.  HIM. I never got to see James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Earth Wind & Fire, T.Rex, My Bloody Valentine, Kraftwerk, This Heat, New Order, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Sly & The Family Stone, Merzbow. Doesn’t matter now. I saw HIM. At various points Prince recalls all of them, smart enough to leave enough space to let the funky moments really get inside your bones and make your toes curl, genius enough that when he plays guitar he really does recall Hendrix/Hazel but still puts across nothing but his OWN blend of what he’s listened to. And still a brilliant, bewitching dancer. In a sense, Prince is the last living relic we have that directly touches back to those aulden times in music, crucially though every time he plays a note he propels us into the future. ‘Musicianship’ is something it’s become incredibly difficult to defend or respect or acclaim anymore – so often does it mean the tedium of wanky solos, empty showboating. In Prince the whole concept gets opened up to the full possibilities perhaps only Miles & Jimi ever touched before – every moment of Prince’s guitar playing is a juddering jolt of electric wow that pushes your jaw just that extra inch closer to the floor. And he’s not frowning or sweating, he’s looking like the coolest motherfucker you ever saw in your life, he’s looking like he’s ENJOYING it, like he’s just as turned on by the sheer psychedelic outrageousness of what he’s conjuring from his battle-axe cum magic wand. ]#
   Two utterly astonishing moments as well where he entirely slips the rock-god leash and transmogrifies into utterly contrary identities– one a gorgeous medley of songs where he’s at the piano, pure Donny Hath/Joni style and you realise his voice is somehow older, but still immortal, his voice this thing that, like his playing, can seemingly DO ANYTHING, flying from the most sultry depths to the most shattering falsetto in the space of a syllable. Another moment where he steps behind what looks like a straight-up DJ set-up (samplers, decks), and pushes buttons and ‘Hot Thing’ and ‘Sign Of The Times’ happen LOUDER than you’ve ever heard ‘em, heaviest harshest electro beats you’ve heard live since Public Enemy. And you dance and you scream and you swear down you’re getting that logo tattooed on your FACE tomorrow – this guy can fucking do ANYTHING. Brum crowds are slow but in a way entirely free of gimmickry or hoodwinkery he stirs them, times it, paces it, builds it, like no-one else on earth. Greatest showman I’ve ever seen in my life.


3. The songs. The setlist is incredible, as you’d imagine from someone with so much to pull from but it’s the variety that’s key, the quixoticness/suprasmartness of his choices, the little surprises, the odd turns & twists & tweaks it takes that make it not quite a greatest-hits package, and then the glorious moments when he unleashes a monster like ‘1999’, ‘Kiss’ or ‘Beautiful Ones’ on your intensely gratified ass. The way he turns ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ into a monstrously bruising Sabbath-style grind of heaviosity, the way ‘U Got The Look’ and ‘Controversy’ come barraging in to the crowd’s total delight and surprise, the way ‘Diamonds & Pearls’ and ‘I Would Die 4 U’ get spun out and yet abruptly killed with brutal chutzpah, sky-high panache. This whole night is a master class in how to fuck with your past with just the right amount of irreverence and reinvention AND just the right amount of respect to not piss on people’s memories. It’s only on the way home that I think “man, no ‘Dorothy Parker’ or ‘Girlfriend’” but by then, like everyone else, I’m a sticky sated mess with his name in my heart and rattling in my brain with the ear-ringing deafening frenzy of a new-convert. Beforehand I was thinking – there’s no-one alive or dead I want to see play for 3 hours. At the end, I want to go see him again. And again. And again. NOW.


Finally, a thought that can’t be added to a list because it’s too important, a thought that occurs at 4 in the morning, cos of course, after this, I can’t sleep, I’m still buzzing, my head full of undeniable inarguable HIM. It strikes me that the most important thing about what I’ve just seen isn’t about skill or technique or songs or showmanship, it’s not about something you can learn or fake. It’s about generosity. Generosity of spirit in your music. At all times Prince does the incredible things he does FOR the people. At no point is this merely flash. If it was, my god WHAT flash. But there’s something about the way Prince puts his music across that’s about love, about love for us, and our love for him – he never scowls, he never moans if the crowd don’t sing back as loud as he wants them to, he never makes us feel like we HAVE to do anything. He starts a party and he keeps that party going and it’s the greatest party you’ve ever been at and you feel blessed and honoured to have been there, bear witness, got DOWN with the man. He just gives us his songs with a total openness of spirit and heart.
   That’s the thing, perhaps the only thing, that links all true artistic immortals, that deep intrinsic instinctive unselfishness, and Prince exudes it out of every pore. There’s moments tonight where it’s as if he IS music, in some way a living avatar of music’s true liberating spirit, the openness, the freedom, the suggestiveness, the abstractness, the horniness, the transcendence that has us all hooked our whole lives made flesh. He’s everything. Incredible moment when he thanks us for not using our phones, then gets everyone to turn on and transform the place into a sea of stars. And then, during ‘Purple Rain’, which is the most moving moment of my entire life of gig-going, you realise not just that you feel you’re part of that film’s closing sequence but also that that kind of fantasy is precisely what Prince makes real, right here and now. In a time where it’s become orthodoxy that there’s nothing new under the sun, Prince gives you back a new you, under a new sun, dancing a new dance. He makes your life, in seeing him, feel that big, that worth it. That’s an incredibly rare and precious gift, to be able to make people feel that life is worth pushing on with. Utterly inspirational. Totally mind-blowing. It’s amazing what a person can do with music. The pivotal moment I feel the rest of my life will be spun out from. I don’t care if that’s delusion. It’s the best delusion I’ve ever felt.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

F.U.N.K SINGLES PAGE MAY 2014

DAMON ALBARN 
HEAVY SEAS OF LOVE 
(Parlophone) 

I'm told by my anaethetists that this chap was quite the top dog, the big cheese, numero uno honcho back in the 90s, Tommy Steele of generation oh-fuck-John-Smith's-dead. These sip-cup refillers are awfully patronising sometimes - for gods sake, I'm not totally senile yet! I remember! He was always on the television and radio, singing his song and dancing along. I remember him! Must say it's great that he's still going, here hitting on an altogether surprising & soporifically dull expensively lo-fi soul vibe that clearly does something for him at the moment if no-one else. I have to say though, as someone who remembers him the first time round that this really isn't a patch on 'It's My Life'. Come on Doctor/Damon, stop killin' me - once you've finished footling around with this tuneless arty rubbish we need a repeat prescription of that massive hit you had! Remember, it takes a big man to admit he's a one-trick pony.

LILY ALLEN 
SHEEZUS 
(Parlophone)  
"Ri-Ri isn’t scared of Katy Perry’s roaring/ Queen B’s going back to the drawing/ Lorde smells blood, yeah, she’s about to slay you/ Kid ain’t one to fuck with when she’s only on her debut/ We’re all watching Gaga, L-O-L-O, haha/ Dying for the art, so really she’s a martyr/ The second best will never cut it for the divas/Give me that crown, bitch, I wanna be Sheezus". Allen is convinced, and there's many tacit in this delusion, that she's witty, aware, incisive, clever. Fatally for the listener she's HALF all those things, half-clever, cutting as kids safety-scissors, aware as any solipsist can be, a half-wit. Aside from the musical dreariness on offer here (she really has in some way got to find a different voice, and a different model than the Backyardigans for her melodies), what will always keep her mediocre and on the middle-tier of stardom is the utter lack of generosity in her music, the dressing-table self-regarding pretence of it. Her voice, and her songs seem to say 'hey, I know I'm a bit shit, but IN THAT mutal realisation, surely you can let me get away with this?' Well yeah, we can, and anyone that young (how long can that continue to be an excuse?) is self-serving, somewhat deluded, essentially selfish - but if that's ALL you portray in your music, a seemingly endless egoism that wears its shallow insecurities as some kind of massive proof of its intelligence and guile, a navel-picking (and then finger-smelling) egoism that seems entirely scornful of everything beyond itself then . . . I don't want to listen. Millions will, but then millions watch 'Celebrity Juice', millions voted Tory, millions like peanut butter. I don't, cos it looks like shit to me. Each to their own. Live and let live. My new motto. Serious.


AMC & DBR UK 
SEVEN DEADLY SINS EP 
(Proximity Recordings) 
'"Under Siege' is a pristinely filthy low-end lunger at the half-speed 85bpm end of d'n'b. Like the way it's not scared of silence, echo, nasty Depthcharge/Wu-style sword swathes. I'm a sucker for this kind of carnage.

AMIRI
STILL
(HipNott Records)

"I'm on that Diamond D shit/cos 'Stunts & Blunts' was a fuckin' classic' — hey, got to admit he got me with that undeniable opening line and looks like South Carolina producer/emcee Amiri's debut album 'This Is Part Time' will have to be sunk into deeply this June, judging by the strength of 'Still', suffused with grainy '70s textures and a nicely full-phat easy-listening solidity. Nice one.

ARCADE FIRE
WE EXIST
(Sonovox)

Oh, CHEERS for the reminder,  I really had genuinely forgotten. Way to ruin everyone's day, pricks.

BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB 
FEEL 
(Universal Island) 
I avoid Radio 6. I know how it will wind me up, although I suspect I'm probably within their demographic reach. The other day though, just as an experiment I turned it on. Bombay Bicycle Club were presenting a show, playing the records they liked and talking about the music and their own artistic endeavours. Within about a minute I wanted to telekinetically send an airborne tuberculoid virus into the studio that would have them choking on their own vomit before the next trailer-break. Hateful dilettante cunts who would do well to stop showing off their 'eclecticism' with this sub-shit Bollywood knobcheese and figuring out if there is anything, even a tiny iota of anything within their cubby-hole souls that deserves to see the light of day. My guess - not a fucking sausage.

SINGLE OF THE MONTH 
BREAK 
THEY'RE WRONG (CALIBRE REMIX) (Symmetry Records) 

Yes, of course I have big problems with much liquid, with d'n'b that's a little too proper and polite but if there's one man who consistently gets it spot on it's Calibre and this rerub of the ol' Break classic is just gorgeous, the sublime piano and tingly chorale licked across by flickers of guitar and crisp delicious beats. A simply beautiful piece of music. Also on the Calibre tip - hold tight for his new dragging-the-data-files 'Shelflife 3' cos it contains 'Instant' that sets off this 2 hours of fun a treat. Love DS's futurebeats shows.



JAKE BUGG 
MESSED UP KIDS
(Virgin/EMI) 

Now, see, here's the thing, this guy's surrounded by the wrong people. He's clearly a good rhythm guitar player. No Nick Drake, and should stay the fuck away from covering him but not a bad player. Knack for a tune, or at least a decent bridge (still can't write a chorus though, but that'll come).  Some idiot has told him that he needs to sing hard cos this song's about hard times. So everything comes out at this rasp, this fake pitch of lairyness, that I don't think is Bugg's true character. He needs to soften, be tender, because he's actually writing with a bit of sensitivity here. He needs a string section, some horns, give it a bit of Scott Walker lushness. He needs rescuing from his team, his people and their fiction they want him to inhabit, and find his own, push himself. Poor lads, pushed into making lad-rock. Let them grow into the pansies they could be.

BUGGSY 
YA DON'T KNOW 
(Bandcamp)

Phi Life Cypher's DJ Nappa on the mix so you know this is gonna be a monster and so it proves — raw and lush bass-heavy funk over which Buggsy rips forth with all his usual charm, confrontation and characterfulness. Love Buggsy cos he's continuing to avoid any kind of concessions to crossover, finding his own sound, mixing the light-speed chat of '80s dancehall with a brilliant bratty sense of what makes rap addictive. From a soon-come LP 'The Great Escape Season 2' that, judging by this, is shaping up as one of 2014's finest.

SINGLE OF THE MONTH 
CASTLE Ft. HAS-LO 
CLEVER BUNNY
(Mello Music Group)
One of MMG's most off-the-wall genii, Castle's 'Return of the Gas Face' LP was one of the nuttiest most enjoyable US rap releases of 2013 as these two highlights prove in spades. 'Clever Bunny' is a sickly-sweet rotation of soul-loops peppered with random raps from a strange planet, on the flip the superb 'Finalivin' is just as radiantly insane, Has-Lo excelling himself on the mix. Castle's 'artist highlights' read as follows: "once killed the entire Marvel Universe. Made Chuck Norris say 'Uncle'. Warns psychics. Cuts through hot knives with butter. Lost his virginity before his father". C'mon, you KNOW you're gonna have to hear this guy.

ROB CLOUTH 
CLOCKWORK ATOM EP
(Leisure System) 

A glitchier, more confused, more racketty (in the 'what's this racket?' + 'is this some kind of racket he's got going?' senses) Boards Of Canada if you're lazy, which I am. I approve because this reminds me of Michael Manning's long lost 'Public' LP.

ED SCISSORTONGUE 
THEREMIN EP
(High Focus Records)
Always a joy to hear someone have a unique take on what rap can sustain musically, to trust the form to be able to still be forward-looking, to strike out on its own turf with a singular step and with singular sounds. Ed first tipped me off to his wayward, brilliant vision with 2012's 'Spastic Max' single, but this superb seven-track slab of beauty is a whole new kaboodle of wonder. Musically it seems to take cues from the most sublime mordant electronica of Sheffield, Dusseldorf and Detroit and it wraps these cold-yet-beautiful sonicscapes around Ed's tough, freewheeling rhymes to powerful and lastingly unforgettable effect. Too much going on to take on immediately, but an EP that stops you in its tracks as soon as you make contact — strongly recommend you wind this round your waist and into your brain as soon as you can. We'll report back together come 2024 when we've all caught up. Essential.

ELBOW
MY SAD CAPTAINS 

(Polydor) 
Sound reminds me of Lambchop's mighty 'Nixon' but only in a way that immediately makes me run off to listen to that masterpiece: nothing going on here lyrically or melodically of any interest at all. Would like to hear an instrumental - somehow the singer here has managed to find perhaps the only harmonic route through this admittedly sweet backdrop without at any time registering a single motif that sticks. Will soundtrack some cracking organic barbecues I'm sure. Enjoy.

EMINEM ft. NATE RUESS
HEADLIGHTS
(Interscope) 

In which Eminem apologises, in a clearly heartfelt, faintly embarassing way, to his mum for exploiting and exposing her for commercial gain, as well he might.Nate Ruess aka Ben Folds Jr. adds his customary butter. As ever, Yahoo answers has the final word.


THE EMPEROR MACHINE 
RMI IS ALL I WANT 
(Southern Fried Records) 
 The original's sweet enough, disco derailed with no-wave guitar & judders of bleepy noise: Erol Alkan's rerub adds even more harshness, icey stabs that are almost pure EBM. Odd to write about Erol. I kipped round his a few times in the 90s. Judging by this, still a smart & lovely chap. 

ESSEX YOUNG FARMERS 
PUT THAT HOEDOWN 
(Cuckoo Records)  
Why? Oh come on, haven't you seen the video?


A worthwhile cause, so worthwhile in fact there's no need to point out that everyone involved probably reeks of animal faeces on a daily basis. Good luck to all of 'em I say. I'm not kidding about my new live and let live attitude. I read the last singles column and hated myself. It's time to turn that into love and sunshine and spread it around like so much silage. Dig in piggies. Dig in.

FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS 
THE WALKER 
(Dangerbird) 

Pparently 'Ellen Degeneres' Oscar trailer' & The Vampire Diaries (whatever they are) will apparently make this shouty indie-disco thang a hit even though it barely deserves to be (rubbish verses, half-ace chorus, totally ace bridge). Think Icona Pop without those brill colossal hooks. You could do alot worse though, as Youtube, with customary finesse, proves again.








Breaking down barriers, bringing people together. Good on ya FATT.


FOXES 
HOLDING ONTO HEAVEN 

(Sign Of The Times Limited)
Annoyance. It's a spooky spectral thing, can land on a record by the most ephemeral of reasons. Never just about the music, can be down to faces, gestures, expressions, clothes, manners. I like Foxes' manner. Foxes, if yr lazy, is Florence & The Machine lite. Which SHOULD be hella annoying. But in precisely ironing out FATM's hollering insistence, plying a gentler line in KBushisms and not overburdening the grooves with too much EDM-style loudness, Foxes hits on something not in any way annoying. Helps she has a great voice, a voice confident enough to not show off or try way too much. I may recant this if Jo Whiley gets involved but I would not have any problem with her becoming a massive star - 'Holding On To Heaven' is a catchy little number that you barely notice first time you hear it, then you realise within an hour that you need to hear it again, and it's not even her best song.

ELLIE GOULDING
BEATING HEART 
(Interscope) 
The most hateful voice in pop? Yeah, I'd say so, just after Robbie Williams and Pitbull I reck. Proof if proof were needed that a final stage needs adding to the 'BBC Sound Of . . . ' list process whereby, in alphabetical order, those who've made the final cut are stunned with a prod up the anus and then despatched Halal style. Lena Zavapony.

SINGLE OF THE MONTH 
THE GROUCH AND ELIGH 
MY GOD SONG
(Just Listen Records)
Love the soft-soul nature of the backing vocals, sitting atop something entirely undated, a strange rotational peal of glistening electronica more akin to B.O.C or something offa Andrea Parker's Touchin' Bass imprint than anything else. Other tracks from The Grouch & Eligh's new opus 'Tortoise & the Crow' suggest something intriguingly unplaceable going on. Seek it out.

GROUPLOVE 
SHARK ATTACK 
(Atlantic) 
Oh my. Think I might have stumbled across my new most hated band. The musical equivalent of a forced grin. From the opening bouncy acoustic moments you can just imagine the kind of inviduous cuntbubbles who would dig this, in fact you can picture them doing what they would call 'dancing' to this utter shit, what the rest of us would call pouncing about like a fucking wanker. This is the kind of music, liked by the kind of people, who have rendered indie & alternative music a no-go area for me for nearly 20 odd years now. Don't just take my word for it. Cast your eyes on this.


See? All you need to know.


HALF MOON RUN 
NERVE 
(Indica Records) 
I completely accept that the point of music shouldn't always be to shake the planet till the pips shake. Since time immemorial there's been plenty of music created purely to be anodyne, to dovetail neatly with other consumer choices, to be unobtrusively pleasant. HMR do it nicely. Nice 3-part harmonies, nice hook but whyohwhyohwhy does this kind of polite poesy always find itself coming out of people who look so dull? I wish that today's easy listening merchants (for this is essentially what bands like HMR and Haim are) could posess even an ounce of cool, an ounce of Nancy/Lee/Esquivel oddity to their look or voices. In concentrating on the music they've forgotten the show. I'm nitpicking though, 'Nerve' is absolutely not offensive. It's a cosy pool of piss to paddle in.

CALVIN HARRIS 
SUMMER 
(Sony Music Entertainment) 
Time Machine on. Input: survey the sweep of time and space and take me back to Dumfries in the mid 80s. Yes, stop giggling, I'm not being silly, I said Dumfries. Take me to the home of young Adam Richard Wiles. Yes, the kitchen. Breakfast time. Look at him, see him? Eating his toast but leaving his crusts. Look at him, see how he just bites the bready bit and disdains the edges, pushing them uneaten to the side of his plate? We must act. You've warned me about messing with history but this is important. Input: He's leaving his crusts. Consequently, his hair won't be as curly as it can be. Later on, much later on, when he and I have grown - he to a life of shitty disco-house provision & international superstardom under his new name Calvin Harris and me, with the name I was born with, to a life of shame and ignominy I will read a quote wherein he reveals that he "wanted to be like Steve McManaman. But I never had curly hair, so I got into music. If I'd had curly hair, things would've been different". Do you not see? INPUT - If I force these crusts down his rancid gullet we might avoid the gruesomely lacking-in-oomph likes of 'Summer' with its liposuctioned synth beds and revoltingly bristled vocals. Get the fucker deluded with a trial for Queen Of The South, and sit back to enjoy a future free of his horrible music, where he picks up a career-ending injury going in for a two-footed challenge in extra time during a relegation six-pointer against Cowdenbeath and takes that job as a five-a-side trainer at the D.G One Leisure Centre that would see him safely, unmusically, out to his dotage. Come on, it's a plan, you can't deny it - Input:  one listen to this crock should convince you of my plan's worth, even if it does disrupt the space time continuum and plunge us headlong into nothingness. It may be preferable. It will be preferable.

JAMIE XX 
GIRL/SLEEP SOUND
(Young Turk)
Studio-bound doodles from him out of them - destined like so much of today's mediocre music to be hailed with all kinds of superlatives by people who've heard fuck all. Essentially a very very very boring trip-hop record.

J.LOVE ft. GHOSTFACE KILLAH & CORMEGA 
GLORIFIED EXCELLENCE
(J.Love Enterprises)
Ghost & Cormega? Together? (Cum-face).  Fantastic as you'd imagine and a great gritty thunking heavy backing track from JL too. Play so loud you shit.

KAGOULE 
IT KNOWS IT 
(Denizen)
Wow, Proustian flashback to tearing open jiffy bags and scowling in Waterloo, piss-weak 90s-style grunge never went away I guess-  this Zane Lowe-boosted bunch want to sound like Cay or Scarce and consequently sound so deliberately datedly 90sish it's like watching someone update their myspace page, plug a VHS hole with chewed up paper, eat a pop tart with a spork. It's not their FAULT that Zane Lowe likes them but that's the instant enshittening effect he has for you. Bad luck Kagoule.


KASABIAN
EEZ-EH 

(Sony Music Entertainment) 

ITEM! Greatest Lyric Of The Year: "Horsemeat in the burgers/People commit murders/Everyone’s on bugle/We’re being watched by Google.” ITEM! Why is it, when lumpen crap bands rather self-consciously make an effort to be slippery and funky do they think melody must be sacrificed, turned into a lazy rotation of 3 basic bluesy notes (i.e if it's in E, sing D, E and G in random order)? Is it because for all their avowed 'rave-friendliness' they actually are coming from a deeply rooted notion that 'dance music' is dumb? ITEM! PWEI and Jesus Jones records (which strangely, are both identical to and somehow better than 'Eez-Eh') have been available at many music retail outlets for some time now. ITEM! Kasabian have been boosting their latest loaf of ordure as the zenith of their creative life thus far. We can only hope they call it a day now they're 'on top'. ITEM! Leicester wankers.

LADY GAGA 
G.U.Y 
(Interscope) 
Been finding LG's music pretty dull recently but I guess that's not the point. The point is the 12 minute video to this, a dumping ground seemingly for visual ideas she hasn't been able to put anywhere else and consequently an utter fucking mess, but a fairly gloriously batshit and dirty one. See it.


SINGLE OF THE MONTH 
LANA DEL RAY 
WEST COAST 
(Polydor) 

Utterly sublime. Sounds like a proper wierd band, a cool, funky, tense band but not leadenly so, her voice as ever a thing you wanna drown in but what's key is the IDEAS here, the way the song, via a stunningly executed broken jazz-break kills its groove to swim in this sumptuous chorus with a pure 'Some Velvet Mourning' confidence. The precise moment that the heat of the street absconds and you lift off at the shore cos there's no further to go.

LORDE 
TENNIS COURT (Universal NZ) 

Wasn't this out last year everywhere but here? Actually prefer this to 'Royals', love the line 'It's a new art form showing people how little we care/ We're so happy, even when we're smiling out of fear'. Beyond everyone else, the girl I want my girls to listen to.


MAX MARSHALL 
YOUR LOVE IS LIKE 
(MaxMarshallMusic) 

Oh lord be praised, a gentle, unpushy yet un-fauxvulnerable voice. With nothing to prove, just a thing to get into, a feeling to get out. A melody that's like walking, like the kind of tunes that beam into your head when on the day-to-day grind. Love the oddity in the production too, the stuttery beats, the faint glimmers of electro. I will follow.

SINGLE OF THE MONTH 
MELANIN 9 
AMULETS EP 
(Blunted Astronaut) 

The mighty ex-Triple Darkness MC looks set to reissue highlights from his astonishing 2007 'High Fidelity' mixtape soon but before then get yourself up to speed with this simply brilliant EP. The title track is a haunted, smeared head-nodder that recalls Brotherhood in its foggy funk courtesy of The Summit and hazy-yet-furious lyricism, 'Cloudsteppa' on the flip sees DJ Drinks drop a harsh yet supra-spooky backing track under M's non-stop rhymes but the highlight here has to be Lewis Parker's staggering rerub of 'Cloudsteppa', a full-on jazz horn section (bass-clarinet undulating with real stealth and grace) colouring the whole thing with a real Blue-Note/Impulse sense of space, dread and daring. Unmissable.

GEORGE MICHAEL 
GOING TO A TOWN 
(Virgin EMI)
Of course, the true inheritors of P.F. Sloan and Jimmy Webb's legacy don't even know those names. This is all very correct - full orchestra, Rufus Wainwright cover, snore.  I miss the insanity of that 'True Faith' cover. Get back on the weed George. I can do you an eighth for £20. Get in touch.

KYLIE MINOGUE 
I WAS GONNA CANCEL 
(Parlophone)
You have to forget who's involved on first listen. Fans are saying it's not good enough to be a single and there's way better things on the album & yup you'd expect more impact from a Kylie/Pharell collab, undoubtedly the success of 'Happy' is probably why this has been chosen. But this is a serious grower. Were it a debut you'd flip wads.


SINGLE OF THE MONTH 
מזמור (MIZMOR)
VII - Epistemological Rupture
(Bandcamp)

Ok, you get something heavy. Then you put something heavier on top of it. You now have a heavy thing, fine. Then, just for the fuck of it, you lift it up and slip something heavy underneath it, make it swallow something massively heavy and spray-paint it with some sort of collosally heavy coating that makes it even heavier. You're getting close now, but on a whim you then clone it a few times, encase it in a storage tank lined with mile-wide thick lead walls, dip THAT in liquid mercury and then stick shitloads of spare aircraft-carriers over it in a fit of decorative pique. NOW you're getting close to just exactly how cunting heavy this 15 minute monster from Portland fuck-ups Mizmor really is. From a split 12" with Hell that's probably sold out by now y'slack bastard. Holy shitting Jesus this is heavy. It's a heavy thing. Utterly utterly pitiless music. Feel the universe drop in gravity-loaded slabs on your tiny squishy head immediately. This and all those tapes Graceless Recordings are shooting out of Nashville right now are all the GRRR you need this summer.

9th WONDER ft. JOEY FATTS
ALL GOOD/BE INSPIRED 
(Jamla Records)
Holy hell but 9th Wonder's just-dropped 'Jamla is the Squad' compilation is one of 2014's most delicious trunk-bumpers and these two highlights showcase everything that's great about it — gorgeous production, jazziness unmoored by earthly concerns and floating truly free, like Sun Ra-meets-the Beatnuts-meets-your melting mind. 'Be Inspired' in particular manages to combine the warmth and funkativity of Al Green with PR's typically clunky yet on-point rhyming. Get your garden bumping.

ONE DIRECTION 
YOU AND I
(Sony)
I find, as I get older, that I'm reverting to my childhood alot in my critical sense. The other day I became convinced that basically there were two types of music. Fast music - which I like. Slow music - which I hate. 'You And I' is slow, a chunky-jumpered moment that will bore their younger fans as much as it bores me. In its realisation, production, singing, melody it is superior to all the music liked by One Direction's haters. See, I want them to stick around, get bigger. Because me and my grandson like dancing to them. And because, almost to a fault, anyone who gets annoyed by them is probably a 'real music' fan wanker. No matter how irritating 1-D might get, the idea of them irritating their haters is a delicious one and will continue to be. Long may they vex the cretinous.

PANIC AT THE DISCO 
NICOTINE 
(Fueled By Ramen) 

All such man-pop music has been rendered invalid and superfluous by One Republic's 'Counting Stars', a record that on a deep level continues to simultaneously repel and thrill me. This is where Erasure-music has ended up and I'm not sure I'm entirely happy about that.


PETE FLUX & PARENTAL
WARMING UP
(Akromégalie Records)
Sometimes one detail can seize you, adhere your heart to something — 'Warming Up' would otherwise be competent yet unremarkable Diamond D/Pete Rock style hardcore but with this gorgeous backwards Fripp-style guitar tangling itself within the sound, it becomes something approaching essential. Hear it.

SCAR 
FAIRGAME 
(Horizons Music) 
Survival and Script collaborate on this revoltingly wonky low-end stomper. Bass that clasps your brain in its fists and then twists deliciously.

SHAKIRA
EMPIRE 
(Ace Entertainment) 
Cracking the West comes at a price, though this does find the Shak recapturing the vocal idiosyncracy I missed in her last couple of singles, little crooks and those tiny self-detunings she can do, like her voice is a string and someone's budged the machine-head. 'Empire' is Shakira in full-on rock ballad mode and is a promo single purely to boost album sales - as such, though it could be seen as a return to her roots, the pernicious influence of Steve Mac (One Direction, The Wanted, Westlife, Susan Boyle, Il Divo, Leona Lewis, The Saturdays, James Blunt, John Newman) and many others.can be heard throughout, pushing Shak's persona to the edges as pure business-sense takes things over, something that unfortunately ruins what few good songs there are on the new album. If I can be entirely racist and sexist for a moment, someone hook this woman up with Juana Molina and let her make the album she wants to make rather than the one she 'needs' to.


SKYZOO & TORAE
BLUE YANKEE FITTED
(SoundCloud)
Oh man, thought I could get through this year saving my pennies but mygod Skyzoo & Torae's collaborative 'Barrel Brothers' LP is coming and this opening salvo from the duo will have you slavering: snare rasping, bass-lunging low, loops a freaky mix of straight up noise and droning machinery utterly perfect for the subject matter. New York on wax. Cap your dome with this immediately.

SINGLE OF THE MONTH
TI MARCEL 
NAN POINT LA VIE (SIWO VERSION) 
(Sofrito Records) 

Haitian carnival music, using the long, single-note 'Vaksin' bamboo flute ("nature's very own sub-bass") to mesmerising effect over antsy beats that get up in your innards and make you move. From a compilation, 'Haiti Direct', of Compas Direct music (meaning direct beat — a derivative of meringue and the national music of Haiti) that should be utterly compelling - also check out the wonderful mix of synthetics and Piaf-style torch song on Claudette & Ti Pierre's 1979 corker 'Zanmi Camarade'.

TIMEFLIES ft. KATIE SKY 
MONSTERS 
(Island) 
Wow, such an innovative idea. Get the blokes to do the music and rap badly, seriously badly in the verses. Then give the chorus to the female singer and make sure it's 'anthemic'. See also 'Umbrella', 'Fireworks' (Drake & Alicia K), 'What's My Name?' (Rihanna & Drake, 'Love The Way You Lie' by Eminem & Rihanna, 'Got Your Back' by T.I. & Keri Hilson, 'Castle Walls' by T.I. & Christina Aguilera, 'Unstoppable' by Drake, Santo Gold, & Lil Wayne, 'I Need A Doctor' by Dr. Dre, Eminem, & Sklar Grey I mean do I really have to go on? Profitable-template-chasing wankers.

WEBER 
EINS 
(Holger)
I don't know what the fuck he's on but keep that shit away from me. Love those crazy Germans.



PAUL WELLER 
BRAND NEW TOY 
(Virgin EMI) 
Small Faces meets early Bowie meets 'Bennie & The Jets'. And I like all those things. So why don't I like 'Brand New Toy'? Because it's 2014 and the world is ending and the only way we're going to survive is if we push on through to somewhere beyond this endless daily regression. It's like, y'know when you've gone on a really long walk cos you're skint and hungry and you're nearly at your destination? I always masochistically imagine what it'd be like if I blinked and found myself back where I started at. That's what 'Brand New Toy' makes me feel like. Like you're listening to a teacher. A teacher drearily insisting we've got a ton of catching up with the past to get through before we can even get to a point where we can say what being here now is like. I'm a bit sick of that and craving agitation not sedation I say fuck that hiding. I've been walking ages. I want to go onwards. I don't want to hear the shadows of the past that make up the fictions of the present. I want to know what tomorrow could sound like.

PHARRELL WILLIAMS
Marilyn Monroe 

(Columbia)
Dull. Shoulda given it to JT. Although JT can do better. Tight production, like a digitalised Earth Wind & Fire but . . .  dull. And that hat just can't stop reminding me of Don Estelle hawking tapes outside Cov Woolworths. Pass.

XTRAH ft. MIKAL 
NO GOOD/DIRECTIVE 
(Metalheadz Platinum Breakz)
'No Good' has a nicely out-of-tune vocal lick that renders it mournful and moving, great bass-led anti-rhythm to the pulse n all but it's the flip 'Directive' that I love from this, from the heavy harsh beat to the guttural robo-vox to the sci-fi distorted bass it's an ice-cold, chrome-plated fucked up masterpiece I recommend unreservedly.


 YOU ME AT SIX
COLD NIGHT 
(Virgin) 
YMAS assisting in the search for the remains of rock and roll, yesterday
Y'know those cack posters knocked up for local charity gigs that always feature somewhere a  silhouetted clipart graphic of someone playing a guitar with headphones on in mid-air with spikey hair? Little known fact that all such graphics were culled from a single 3-song photo session in the pit at a You Me At Six show. I must admit to have been entirely oblivious to their implacable rise from the rock-mag covers to the heights of stadium pop-rock tedium so I'm glad to catch up with the pulse on this, their latest airbrushed plop of a single, rock for the practically Christian , rock surely only people for whom Paramore are a step too far into extremity . In fairness, for that is what I'm engaged in now, they're better at this than Kings Of Leon, in fact, they're nearly as good as the mighty shitey Snow Patrol. I just have a question, and sorry if this makes me seem 'out of touch' to you jungenvolk. Are they . . . real? Or animated? I can't tell. I mean, in the video they look like they've been sketched out on a lightpad but how does that work when they play live? Are they holograms? They can't be real, they're too compositely perfect, too correct, too utterly bereft of humanity- god I feel so stupid! If they're animated, good work, although not quite Pixar quality, more second-tier Dreamworks. Amazing what they can do now. See u in summer pop kid. 

Monday, 5 May 2014

A NEW NINETIES MIXES: 1994 UK Edition Parts 1 & 2

Seemed like an apposite time to jog a few memories of futures that never came to pass. As a countermand to the tsunami of bullshit that's accompanied the 20th anniversary of Britpop I can strongly recommend Taylor Parkes' masterly overview of its true resonances and ramifications. Here's what I remember of 1994, divvied up between these two mixes.