Thursday, 31 March 2011

Moonshake Peel Session (22/11/1992)

The Mark I version of Moonshake has to be one of my favourite bands of all time. The dynamic, creative tension between songwriters Dave Callaghan and Margaret Fiedler sadly meant the band couldn't last beyond a handful of EPs, a mini-album and the legendary (in my house) 'Eva Luna' album. However, while artistic gravity was able to keep that version of the band together, they were able to produce some stunning live shows and amazing records.

This Peel Session from 1992 was recorded just as the album was coming out and they were starting to tour the new songs. It shows a handful of tracks as work-in-progress live versions - almost formed but still to be completely refined and honed into their final, live incarnations.

'Sweet Heart', 'Mugshot Heroine' and 'Beautiful Pigeon' all have slightly different arrangements, with a sample/loop missing or a slightly different choice of sample, which gives a real insight into the process the band went through from song/idea to their hybrid of organic and inorganic elements. The other track is 'Coming' from their debut EP on Creation which, having been recorded and fully road-tested, is very close to the recorded version.

Download Moonshake Peel Session 22/11/1992 (Moonshake mp3)

Read a great article about Moonshake and Eva Luna.

Kenickie 'Come Out 2 Nite' (Fierce Panda, 1996)

Punk-pop thrills and spills from the short-lived 90s self-styled punkas from Tyne and Wear.

Lauren Laverne, now a fully-fledged telly presented, author and BBC 6 Music presenter, was the driving force behind the band, a cartoon indie pop band that had some deceptively sharp songs. Personal faves were 'Punka' and 'People We Want' from the EMI debut album and 'Come Out 2 Nite' from this Fierce Panda 7-inch.

Opening with handclaps, a spunky buzz of guitar driving the song forward with Laverne's artfully sneery vocals and a driving Glitter-band drum beat, it's a rousing call-to-party and it's over and done in under two minutes. Which is very punk.

Download Kenickie 'Come Out 2 Nite' (indie mp3 download, Divshare)

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

New Music - More Fleet Foxes 'Grown Ocean' (Bella Union/Sub Pop, 2011)

More tracks from 'Helplessness Blues' are hitting the net, not least this very charming video montage from the making of the album. The audio is provided by, what sounds like it's probably the opening track of the album, going under the name 'Grown Ocean'.

It's a giddy, rushing song that sounds like it's going to fast for itself. The vocals are strong and clear and it ends in an accapella breakdown.

Looking forward to the album soooo much.

Watch Fleet Foxes 'Grown Ocean' (Vimeo)

New Music - Midlake cover Black Sabbath (Late Night Tales, 2011)

Unassumingly beautiful and pastoral cover of Black Sabbath's 'Am I Going Insane?' which has some subtle disharmony on the harpsichord and a little slashing, gently distorted guiter.

Very nice taster from Midlake's Brit and Strange Folk flavoured addition to the Late Night Tales series of compilations with tracks from Espers, Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, Beach House, Nico and Scott Walker.

Download Midlake 'Am I Going Insane?' (Black Sabbath cover, indie, folk mp3, Mediafire)

Or stream the whole mix.

Ganger 'Geocities' (Wurlitzer Jukebox, 1997)

Unsung godparents of post-rock, Ganger dug a particularly lovely, bass-led furrow in the late 90s. It's fair to say that Mogwai were taking notes and there is a particular round, metallic, twin-bass sound that Ganger should have trademarked but I suppose they themselves owe a bit to 'Djed'-era Tortoise.

I'll admit came to them late and have, once the 'Fore' and 'Hammock Style' albums and have been keeping an eye out for other EPs and 7s over the last few years.

This track - 'Geocities' - is a coiled, poised little beauty that comes in on a delicate, interlocking bass figure, before mathematical but clattering drum set out a spacious beat. It builds and the second bass adds ballast to the track, adding momentum and groove. It resolves into a sweeter expressive passage, the drums loosening up and creating a panorama of sound before the tracks resolves to a close.

And it doesn't go, quiet-loud-quiet-scree neither. Dead restrained.

Download Ganger 'Geocities' (mp3, Rapidshare)

Visit the Ganger website.

Aztec Camera - Walk Out To Winter (7" Single Version) (Rough Trade, 1983)

A recent second-hand purchase, interesting for it's popped-up synth chimes and decidedly different arrangement from the 'High Land, Hard Rain' version.

Having just read the engrossing 'Rough Trade: Document and Eyewitness' book, it's obvious that this radio-chasing overhaul derives from the period when Rough Trade were trying to get their more commercially-viable artists into the charts (see 'Songs To Remember'-era Scritti Politti also). The producer was Tony Mansfield a pop producer whose CV also includes Mari Wilson, a-ha and Captain Sensible.

I much prefer the album version as but this is interesting as an historical artefact. And it's still a beautiful song.

Download Aztec Camera 'Walk Out To Winter (Rough Trade 7" Version)' (mp3,

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Th' Faith Healers 'S.O.S.' (Clawfist Singles Club, 1994)

Another Clawfist Singles Club goodie. This time a split between Th' Faith Healers and Mambo Taxi called 'Th' Faith Healers & Mambo Taxi Go Abba'.

Mambo Taxi's contribution is an acquired taste from the sometimes good, sometimes bad shamblers. Their take on 'Super Trouper' sounds like Courtney Love has just woken up in rehab after a particularly arduous world tour and someone thrust a microphone into her bleary face. Or maybe it's Phoebe Buffet after six years of homelessness and crystal meth abuse. I can't decide.

Anyway, that all just serves to make Th' Faith Healers' searing take on 'S.O.S.' sound all the more vital and incisive.

Th' Faith Healers were peers of the awesome Moonshake on the mighty Too Pure label and their track opens with a bass-heavy rotation, Roxanne's controlled but yearning vocals setting the tone before the rolling, monster truck of dirge sound is applied to the Abba classic. It works surprisingly well with a lovely, counter melody being picked out on the second guitar and some nice bits of what sounds like mobile phone interference (in 1994?).

It clatters, rumbles and shakes its way through to a climax, fading away in a shronk of guitar.

Download Th' Faith Healers 'S.O.S.' (mp3, Rapidshare)

The Telescopes 'You Set My Soul' (Creation Records, 1992)

Emerging with a caressed semi-acoustic twang, three tracks into their debut (and only) album for Creation, 'You Set My Soul' was something of a revelation from a band more noted for psychedelic feedback bliss-outs like 'The Perfect Needle' and other delights on the album like 'Splashdown' which start relaxed and plaintive but burst into crunchy distortion and sky-saw guitar solos. Instead 'You Set My Soul' has a rather post-Spirit Of Eden (Talk Talk's late 80s masterpiece) glow.

Buoyed along by a deliciously springy double bass line and expertly brushed drums, the feel is as blissed-out as usual for The Telescopes but the sound is crisp and clean and acoustic, and sets the tone what is a very lovely, laid-back meander, no distortion or solo-ing disturbing the haze.

The sound is wonderfully subtle and restrained, coloured with details like occasional piano flourishes and some gorgeous close-miked guitar, occasional dubby echoes and very, very underplayed harmonica (headphones only to hear that one, I think).

Effortlessly cool and perfectly underplayed, a total classic that probably didn't make it onto the soundtrack of the Creation Records film, Upside Down. However, it absolutely should be there as it demonstrates that it was the freedom, experimentalism and support for artists that made the label special. Not the T-Rex pastiches.

Download The Telescopes 'You Set My Soul' (mp3,

Read Radiohead's The Universal Sigh (PDF)

Stereogum have posted a PDF version of the Radiohead newspaper that was released yesterday along with the physical, store version of 'The King Of Limbs'.

View Radiohead's The Universal Sigh (Stereogum) or download the PDF.

Record Store Day news: Radiohead will also be releasing a new single on Record Store Day (April 16th) in the UK. The single will include two new tracks: “The Butcher” and “Supercollider.” The exclusive 12″ will be limited to a pressing of 2000.

So there's been quite a flurry of activity, what with the Thom Yorke/Burial/Four Tet twelve-inch as well.

New Music - Death Cab For Cutie 'Codes and Keys' new track, tracklist and first live video shoot news (Atlantic, 2011)

New tracks from Death Cab For Cutie abound. 'You Are A Tourist' (scroll down for player) opens with a swell of looping feedback before a chunky drum pattern comes in. Guitars are perky and almost Big Country-esque.

It sounds more chugging and muscular than the likes of 'Transatlanticism' but a grower, methinks. Looking forward to hearing more stuff from the new album.

Codes And Keys is out at the end of May and the tracklist is as follows:
01 Home Is A Fire
02 Codes And Keys
03 Some Boys
04 Doors Unlocked And Open
05 You Are A Tourist
06 Unobstructed Views
07 Monday Morning
08 Portable Television
09 Underneath The Sycamore
10 St Peter’s Cathedral
11 Stay Young, Go Dancing

Monday, 28 March 2011

Foals 'Balloons (Foals Kieran Hebden Session #1)' (Transgressive, 2007)

Foals Kieran Hebden, Balloons (Kieren Hebden Session #1), Transgressive

Pop-Post-Rock for the Skins-generation.

Foals are one of my favourite contemporary bands, making a sort of pop post-rock - as popular with the post-Skins generation as chin-strokers like me.

The original version of 'Balloons' (a single from their awesome debut album, Antidotes) is a twitchily funky track with a trademark Foals duelling-guitars riff. Kind of like Wishbone Ash meets Soweto rock. It hits a straightahead groove for the verse and barks out a lyric that seems to be about the floaty feeling you get from being in love. Then the chorus smashes in like an alcoholic bull in an Oddbins, joined by squawking Fun House sax, tribal drums and shouty vocals.

The Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet - see the Four Tet/Burial/Thom Yorke tracks elsewhere on #TRNWRD) session takes the track in a completely adroit direction - elongated the track to the other side of eight minutes and accentuating the afro funk, adding in subtle electronics but not over-powering the core band sound. It moves at a much less frenetic pace than the regular version but has a much more hypnotic groove to it, especially as it builds speed and intensity through the middle section into the aircraft-taking-off bit (you'll know it when you hear it) and then breaking down and building up again.

Only available on a one-sided 12", it's a really engrossing track that also shows a whole other direction that Foals could have gone in.

Download Foals 'Balloons (Kieran Hebden Session #1)' (Foals Kieran Hebden post-punk, math rock, post-rock mp3 download, Mediafire)

Foals website

Slint 'Good Morning, Captain' (Live in Louisville, 2005)

I imagine it's not actually legal to write an indie-slash-alternative blog without including a post about Slint. However, 'Spiderland' really is that good.

The album winds up in the driving, relentless and unnerving 'Good Morning, Captain'. The song opens with a lone, keening guitar figure that loops round a couple of times before the drums and bass crack in, setting up a simple, locked groove. Spoken word is the order of the day, intoning what seem to the last words of the sole survivor of a shipwreck.

A dynamic (wordless) chorus explodes before the track locks back into its groove, building up, before breaking down and exploding with David Pajo's arcs of expressive guitar. We break down into gently strummed guitars, preparing for a loud bit (thereby inventing Mogwai), before hitting the final verse where he finds the dying ship's captain and the sky splits open with (King) crimson peals of guitar and the vocal erupting into spine-tingling shrieks of "I miss yooooouuuuuu!"

We draw to a close with a trail of decaying overdriven guitar.

Stunning stuff that blew the roof of at their All Tomorrow's Parties in 2005.

Download Slint 'Good Morning, Captain (Live in Louisville, 2005)' (mp3, Rapidshare)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Primal Scream 'Higher Than The Sun (Live at Olympia)' (2010)

Ah, Screamadelica - the point at which the gobshite rock'n'roll suicides of Primal Scream emerged from an Ecstasy-induced rebirth as genre fusing visionaries. Not sure how that happened - I think Andrew Weatherall has a lot to do with it, though - but 'Higher Than The Sun' was the point at which I did a volte-face and dug the Scream.

Such an irrefutable piece of genius has that kind of effect. Yes, 'Loaded' was a good indie-dance floor-filler, but it didn't fuse deep, deep dub reggae with ambience and Pharoah Sanders, now did it? And it didn't have Jah Wobble on the mind-expanding 'A Dub Symphony In Two Parts' version either.

Recently reissued in a mind-boggling hundred-quid tin or as a more palatable double CD version, Screamadelica is one of the great albums of the last twenty years even though it was cobbled together from tracks conceived in isolation rather than recorded as a whole album.

They've also started to perform the whole of 'Screamadelica' live and this track is taken from the first shows last year at Olympia. A lot of 'Screamadelica' was never performed live at the time. 'Higher Than The Sun' was but the 2010 live version turns it into even more of a head trip with free-er sax and over 13 minutes of blissed-out joy.

Download Primal Scream 'Higher Than The Sun (Live at Olympia)' (mp3, Mediafire)

Primal Scream official website

The Drift 'Invisible Cities' (Temporary Residence, 2005)

The Drift emerged in the mid-noughties on the pretty damn awesome Temporary Residence label with a brand of jazz-inflected post-rock-ish instrumental goodness that is hard to resist.

Featuring ex-members of Tarentel and Halifax Pier, The Drift drift (ho-ho-ho) through a musical landscape that takes in Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue-era Miles Davis, Slint, Tortoise, Can and Eno.

'Invisible Cities' is an improvisational, elongated jam with a gorgeous rhythm and overlaid with delicious guitars and a lonesome trumpet. Pretty much perfect alt-Sunday fare.

Download The Drift 'Invisible Cities' (mp3,

Check-out The Drift on Temporary Residence and buy some of their albums!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

LCD Soundsystem 'No Love Lost' (Tour Single, 2007)

LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire toured the US in 2007 and put together a split 7-inch to celebrate. Arcade Fire cover 'Pouree de Cire, Poupee de Son' (France Gall, written by Serge Gainsbourg) on the other side.

LCD Soundsystem focus on Joy Division's 'No Love Lost' and turn in a taut, straight-edged monster. Focused and sharp as steel, burbling synths are added amongst the steely Gang Of Four guitar strang. James Murphy does his best Ian Curtis impression, whilst the rest of the band add call-and-response vocals.

Download LCD Soundsystem 'No Love Lost' (mp3, Mediafire)

Visit the LCD Soundsystem website.

Or read Pitchfork's complete guide to LCD Soundsystem.

New Music - Arctic Monkeys 'Brick By Brick' (Domino, 2011)

Arctic Monkeys surreptitiously came back with the posting of new track 'Brick By Brick' on their website last week.

It still bears the rock hallmarks of having worked with Queens Of The Stone Age's Josh Homme on the last album. The new album ('Suck It And See' - out in June) was produced entirely with James Ford in LA but if 'Brick By Brick' is representative, it's not a return to the spiky pop of the first two albums.

'Brick By Brick' is a little more direct and catchy/hooky than most of 'Humbug' but it's still distinctly rocks. And it comes with a vinyl fetishist video (links below).

The slight taint of disappointment sent me scurrying back to the 2006 live album that came with the 'Live At The Apollo' DVD. 'Still Take You Home' is a fresh and cheeky as any of their songs but it's rendered more muscular in this live incarnation.

Download Arctic Monkeys 'Still Take You Home (Live in Texas)' (mp3, Rapidshare)

Listen to Arctic Monkeys 'Brick By Brick' or watch the video on Youtube.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Tindersticks 'We Have All The Time In The World' (Clawfist Singles Club, 1993)

Tindersticks have veered between austere, filmic beauty and seedy, lovelorn balladry across a career that now spans almost twenty years.

'We Have All The Time In The World' is one side of a Clawfist Singles Club seven-inch (Gallon Drunk's Terry Edwards had the other side) and it manages to embody both facets of the band in one track. Graced with sweeping strings, it features one of Stuart Staples' less - how can I say this politely - in-tune vocal performances. He isn't all over the shop and it isn't unpleasant to listen to. Indeed, it somehow it suits the performance of the song, adding a lovelorn, broken edge that suits the reality of how the song appears in the James Bond film it's from.

As the song ends, Tindersticks' own take on the James Bond theme kicks in.

Download Tindersticks 'We Have All The Time In The World' (mp3, Mediafire)

The best Clawfist Singles Club page I could find on the web.

Listening Post - The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart 'Belong' (Fortuna Pop/Slumberland, 2011)

The whole of the new Pains Of Being Pure At Heart album is available preview. I think it's in the shops on Monday (28th March).

'Belong' is sounding better and better with every listen and the whole album is a sturdier affair than their exquisite debut, adding in new, sacrilegious flavours, like the synths on 'Heart In Your Heartbreak' and the sequencer lines in 'The Body'.

As ever, influences and echoes pop out of the mix and poke the older listener in the nostalgia-lode. So, 'Heaven's Gonna Happen Now' (for me, anyway) has a little bit of New Order or maybe Revenge about it and the spirit of (long forgotten Factory band) The Railway Children looms over lots of the album too - though they were a truly obscure band so that might just be a coincidence.

No-one would claim it to be the most original of sounds going but it is truly gorgeous stuff and well worth a listen.

Melody Dog 'Futuristic Lover' (K Records, 1991)

A really lovely piece of lo-fi, almost naive, indie pop by Katrina Mitchell of the Pastels and Pat Laureate on an assortment of shakers, recorders, whirly tubes, a bit of guitar and vocals.

It has the feel of a twee ballad written by the cast of Peanuts/Charlie Brown and is unfeasibly gorgeous without being sickly. Produced by Stephen Pastel and with Francis Macdonald on drums, it's clear that Melody Dog were well plugged-in to the Glasgow Indie Mafia.

Sadly, this and another seven-inch on Seminal Twang (the coolest label name ever) and a track on a compilation on Saint Etienne's Icerink label are all that Melody Dog ever released. Lucky it's this good then.

Download Melody Dog 'Futuristic Lover' (indie pop, The Pastels, mp3) (Divshare) (mp3)

Melody Dog on K Records' website.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Golden 'Don't Destroy Me' (Icerink, 1992)

The first of what I suspect will be many posts about the work of Messrs. Stanley and Wiggs aka Saint Etienne aka Cola Boy aka...

'Don't Destroy Me' is one of the stand-out tunes (for me, anyway) of their short-lived Icerink label and features on one of their beautifully-designed 12"s. It's a dubby, divine slightly melancholy plea for romantic clemency, fronted by the mysterious Canny Golden, Celina Golden and Lucy Golden, who may or may not have actually existed.

It drifts in with a patter of drums - played by Joe Dilworth, otherwise known for his alternative music photography and for being the drummer in Th' Faith Healers, Too Pure band of no little note.

A gorgeous dubby bass weaves in, before a sonorous vocal picks up the melody. It also features an awesome flute solo. That's not something I find myself saying very often.

Bearing the catalogue number DAVO112, this was the first release on Icerink. There was another single, Wishful Thinking, but this is just perfection.

Download Golden 'Don't Destroy Me' (Stanley/Wiggs, dub pop mp3) (Mediafire)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

New Music - Patrick Wolf 'The City' (Hideout, 2011)

Just picked this up on lovely scarlet vinyl having stumbled across the video on a music channel recently. I've always found Patrick Wolf interesting but never particularly loved his stuff.

This is a fabulously catchy, uplifting, drums and horn-driven love song that demands to be listened to on repeat. To me, he's channelling Dexy's Midnight Runners, Aztec Camera and maybe even Haircut 100, though of course it's possible he's never heard any of them. A beauty.

Listen to Patrick Wolf 'The City' (Soundcloud)

Pram 'Cumulus' (from 'Iron Lung EP', Too Pure, 1993)

Pram were an interesting proposition - thoroughly avant garde in approach, but on this EP at least, they certainly seemed to be striving for something melodic, attractive, enticing. Active since the early 90s in Birmingham, Pram have ploughed a very singular furrow across labels including Too Pure, Duophonic and Domino.

My first encounter with them was a review copy of this very EP. Putting it on, I had no pre-conceptions of what I was about to hear, save for those stimulated by the press release.

As the first bars of 'Cumulus' emerged from the speakers - a short loop of almost ice cream van style metallic tones - I was hooked. 'Cumulus' alternates between ambient verses and harsh lurching choruses. The verse tells of the sky becoming aglow, neighbours wandering outside to look into the sky, catching a glimpse of an unspecified something.

The chorus crackles into life, an aggressive drang of guitar and bass suggesting an uncertain turbulence before the verse's motorik clip takes up again. There are echoes of Can, especially as the track hits the four minute mark and veers off into what seems to be a locked-groove jam, fragments of melody looming into the mix.

Download Pram 'Cumulus' (too pure, experimental, postrock mp3, Mediafire)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Unique Pale Saints original demo up for auction to raise money for Japan relief appeal + Ride 'Sight of You (Pale Saints cover)'

Ian Masters has put a unique, original, sealed, post-marked copy of Pale Saints' demo tape up forauction in support of the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

View the auction on ebay.

More about the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

Watch this mega-Shoegaze video goodie - Pale Saints' 'Sight Of You' as played by Ride.



As you probably know, I've been livin in Japan for while now. In order to help people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in the north of Japan, I've decided to sell some old rubbish from my cupboards.

The first item is up on Ebay:

*All* the money will go to the Earthquake relief fund.

Please have a look and tell anyone you think might be interested. If you can spread the word via Twitter, Facebook or any other means, that would be great.

Thank you,

Ian Masters
Institute of Spoons

New Music - The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart 'Belong' (Fortuna Pop, 2011)

The Pains (surely not the best band name abbreviation ever) have graduated on this record - from buzzing Sarah Records pop to a harder, grinding buzzsaw sound. There are echoes of the Jesus & Mary Chain's awesome 'Sidewalking' and submerged My Bloody Valentine vocals. And it suits them.

This is the second taster - after 'Heart In Your Heartbreak' - from their second album, 'Belong'. It promises to be more knockabout indie fun.

ThePains of Being Pure At Heart - Belong by SlumberlandRecords

Monday, 21 March 2011

Bark Psychosis 'A Street Scene' (Circa, 1994)

Crikey, this is a beautiful, moody, atmospheric track from an almost supernaturally good band. Bark Psychosis were a ridiculously youthful bunch when they emerged with a clutch of EPs in the early 90s. Their 21-minute epic, 'Scum' (1992), recorded at their base of St John's church, had a majestic sweep of mood and ambience.

Newly signed to a major, they re-emerged with a single. 'A Street Scene' opens with a gentle cat's cradle of bass - rubbery, melodic, resonant - drawing you in with a simple drum skip. A warm, slightly melancholy trumpet joins in before the half-spoken verse burrows its way into your consciousness.

The chorus EXPLODES in a reveille of guitar and brass, the vocal remaining muttered but hopeful, before subsiding into the bass-led verse. As the track progresses through the quiet-loud pattern, it builds a head of steam before subsiding into a gorgeously laid back guitar figure, resolving the tension and bringing the song to a fade.

'Hex' - the album that came next - is a real gem, currently deleted but worth tracking down. As on 'A Street Scene' there is post-rock aplenty (indeed, Bark Psychosis is the band that caused Simon Reynolds to coin the term post-rock) along with echoes of Talk Talk's career summit 'Spirit Of Eden'. Magical stuff.

Bark Psychosis main man Graham Sutton (a noted producer of British Sea Power amongst other bands) revived the Bark Psychosis name for the 'Codename:Dustsucker' album in 2004 after releasing a sequence of drum'n'bass outings through the back half of the 90s. Well worth investigating.

Download Bark Psychosis 'A Street Scene' (alternative, post rock, mp3)

Bark Psychosis on Wikipedia

New Music - Four Tet, Burial and Thom Yorke 'Mirror' (Text Records, 2011)

The other track from the upcoming Four Tet, Burial and Thom Yorke 12", 'Mirror' is a more straight-ahead dubstep club groove with gentle mists of synth strings.

Thom Yorke's vocal is less mumbly and cryptic, upfront in the mix but with some sweet backing vocals adding colour. The track has a nice flow and would sound good accompanying a drive up the Westway late at night.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Various Artists 'Doing It For The Kids' (Creation Records, 1988)

This is the budget-priced compilation (15 tracks on one LP for a couple of quid!) that introduced me to the world of Creation.

From the jangle of Felt, The Jasmine Minks, early Primal Scream (All Fall Down) through the hooverphonic garage rock flavours of The Times and The Jazz Butcher to the mellower side of My Bloody Valentine with 'Cigarette In Your Bed' (wonderfully mis-titled on this release as 'Cigarette In My Bed' - details, details, boys) to the wimpy, bedwetter balladry of Emily's 'Reflect On Rye'.

'Doing It For The Kids' also introduced the other facets of Creation. Heidi Berry's plaintive Sandy Denny-influenced string-laden folk was a particular favourite. I was also introduced to Momus's bitter and twisted electro-pop here too and was a firm fan of the Tender Pervert album. The song included on DIFTKs was the majestic 'A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17-24)' which sounds as utterly fantastic and depraved/deranged listening to it now as it did back then.

The track I've uploaded is the gentle, pastoral electronic ballad 'Jetstream' by Pacific. I know nothing about them and, upon investigation, the rest of their album really wasn't very good. Loved this track and this label though.

Download Pacific 'Jetstream' (mp3)

Download Momus 'A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17-24)' (mp3)

New Film - Upside Down: The Creation Records Story (2011)

Just found this trailer for the must-see biopic of the record label that introduced me to a lot of great music over the years - The House Of Love, My Bloody Valentine, The Boo Radleys, Momus, Primal Scream, Ride, Swervedriver, Super Furry Animals, Felt...

Presumably the film is somewhat based on David Cavanagh's excellent book My Magpie Eyes are Hungry for the Prize and hopefully won't overlook the importance of the lean, indie years in order to salivate over the BritPop Boom.

Download My Bloody Valentine's 'Cigarette In My Bed' (mp3) as featured on the 'Doing It For The Kids' compilation to celebrate.

View the new trailer for Upside Down: The Creation Records Story on Thread Of Light my indie/alternative video blog.

Or check out a clip of Alan McGee's hair from Snub TV in 1989 over on Thread Of Light, my tumblog.

New Music - JJ 'The End' (2011)

JJ are a mysterious duo from Gothenburg, Sweden who have released some utterly haunting, beautiful records. Last year's 'My Life' from their 'JJ No.3' album was one of my tracks of the year.

They recently posted up this new tune with little fanfare. A thing of poise and icy beauty it is too.

Download JJ 'The End' (mp3, Rapidshare)

JJ Official Blog

Friday, 18 March 2011

Schmoov 'Jazzing' (Paper Recordings, 2001)

Ah, the immersive wonders of a nice slice of deep house. I'm toying with the idea of creating a whole separate blog for deep house, jazz and my other musical loves that don't necessarily seem to fit here - but then again I like idea of an eclectic sprawl. But, which is best...?

Hmmm. Anyway, until I resolve that particular ideological puzzle, here's a very tasty treat from 2001.

Paperecordings was an awesome label with a real sense of event and design and some seriously good quality control. Schmoov delivered some very lovely twelve inches for Paper as well as a really good album for DIY.

'Jazzing' is the flipside of a 12" called 'Kiss It' and very slinky it is too. The pads ooze nicely and little twists of bass meander amongst the percussion. It burbles and mutates almost imperceptibly, engrossing you in its chunky deepness. A worthy companion to MJ Cole's 'Sincere'.

Enjoy and check out the 'While You Wait' album if you can find a copy second-hand.

Download Schmoov 'Jazzing' mp3

Schmoov 'While You Wait' on Discogs

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Dexys Midnight Runners - This Is What She's Like (Mercury, 1985)

Simply one of the most staggering songs which shines like a star even among the pretty staggering Dexys portfolio. Released as a single in the wake of the album, it was an almighty flop after the worldwide success of 'Come On Eileen'. It's hard to understand why in hindsight but pop's a funny business.

This song typifies the genius of the 'Don't Stand Me Down' album. Utterly singular in its vision and realisation. Totally soulful and heartfelt. Completely uncompromising.

A twelve-minute lovesong stretching across five sections, encompassing a spoken word intro, strident soul-pop, a Beach Boys harmony interlude and all winding up into a Van Morrison stomp and the staggering, heart-breaking beauty as the horns kick in at 8'14". At this point the video captures the weightlessness, giddiness and euphoria of unbridled love-stroke-passion. And Kevin Rowland can fly.

Sadly 'Don't Stand Me Down' seems to be out-of-print again after a 90s reissue on Creation and then EMI about five years ago. This track is available on the 'Let's Make This Precious' compilation, alas in abridged form.


Oh, and The Little Nibble isn't there any more. I looked last time I was in Bearwood. Indeed, The Hearing Aid blog confirms that it shut down. Shame.

New Music - Treefight For Sunlight 'What Became Of You And I?' (Bella Union, 2011)

Sumptuous Scandi-pop of vintage Beach Boys harmonies and rinky-dink piano. But much better than that sounds.

'What Becaome Of You And I?' is a minor chord pop joy with a stomping verse the erupts into a soaraway chorus of delicious harmony vocals and a rising tides of bass, vibes and bar-room piano. I almost don't want to hear anything else by them just in case it doesn't live up to this.

Treefight For Sunlight on Myspace

New Music - Burial, Four Tet and Radiohead's Thom Yorke 'Ego' (Text Records, 2011)

Going one better than the awesome Burial/Four Tet collaboration of 2009, this time they bring Radiohead's Thom Yorke into the mix.

Lovely, chunky, rolling post-dubstep beats and glitches, swirls of misty melody and a cramped Thom Yorke vocal.

The 12" seems to have sold-out immediately on pre-orders so download or Youtube looks like the best bet for now.

Try with your fingers crossed.

New Music - Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) and Ed Droste (Grizzly Bear) 'I'm Losing Myself' (2011)

Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold recently announced the impromptu mp3 release of three new solo tracks recorded recently, almost seeming to be a distraction from the news of Fleet Foxes' 'Helplessness Blues' album.

Pecknold tweeted about the new recordings, saying, “So, I recorded three acoustic songs a couple weeks ago in LA with my friend Noah…[“I’m Losing Myself”] is a duet with my friend Ed Droste from the amazing band Grizzly Bear, one is just a new solo jam, and one is a cover…These aren’t Fleet Foxes songs, but I didn’t know where else to disseminate it. Pretty mellow jams.”

'I'm Losing Myself' is a gentle, downbeat tune with no chorus, liltingly beautiful but one for a long, dark night of the soul. Ed Droste of the rather fabulous Grizzly Bear adding a subtle layer of additional harmonies.

The whole EP was available at Megaupload but seems to have been withdrawn for unspecified reasons.

Download Robin Pecknold and Ed Droste 'I'm Losing Myself' (mp3)

Fleet Foxes on Twitter

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Byrds 'I Come And Stand At Every Door' (Columbia, 1966)

This is such a stark and haunting song, standing out amongst the sweet melodicism that The Byrds are more renowned for. Bizarrely, 'Eight Miles High' is the next track on the album it comes from ('Fifth Dimension').

I first came into contact with the song via This Mortal Coil's cover on their third album ('Blood', 4AD, 1991). TMC rendered it as an elegant and quite ornate ballad. Lovely in its own way but not as affecting as the original.

The Byrds' simple presentation does nothing to obscure the song's meaning and message - the story of a child ghost of Hiroshima being sentenced to walk the earth.

The vocal is right upfront, supported by a unflashy martial snare crack and a plangent, circular guitar figure. The song lopes along with little in the way of shading or dynamic, all the more to directly communicate its anti-war message.

Watch This Mortal Coil 'I Come And Stand At Every Door' (Youtube)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Breed 'Hard Cash' (Peel Session, 1991)

Breed were an amazing three-piece band from Liverpool who deserved much greater recognition for their brooding, beautiful music and tales of sordid lives.

Contemporaries of Gallon Drunk and taking in influences like Beefheart, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Tom Waits, their drummer went on to be in Placebo, having been the original drummer in The Boo Radleys, and singer/songwriter Simon Breed has re-emerged as a solo artist in the last few years. However, the magic between the members of the original Breed line-up is palpable and they were an awesome live band.

'Hard Cash' is set beneath the sodium halo of a red light district and moods its way in on gentle cymbals before a resonant bass pushes slowly forward. Simon Breed's evocative words tell of the aftermath of the death of a 'street worker', aggressive, uncaring officers making enquiries deep into the night, uncomfortable with their visit to the city's underbelly.

The music is a rolling, almost bluesy shuffle, swelling into a raucous lurch and subsiding again. Entrancing.

Download Breed 'Hard Cash (Peel Session, 1991) (mp3)

Monday, 14 March 2011

Hannah Peel 'Sugar Hiccup' (from the 'Rebox' EP, Static Caravan, 2010)

Hannah Peel has a rather fine album of gently-shaded folk-inspired songs and it's something that caught my ear in Rough Trade recently. Produced by and embellished by members of the fabulous Tunng, it's a real treat.

It did, however, lead me via Youtube, to this excellently quirky EP of new wave covers. Released in 2010 and long sold out, the 'Rebox' EP, features songs by New Order (Blue Monday), OMD (Electricity) and Soft Cell (well, Tainted Love, so actually Gloria Jones). Whilst it's a similar approach to that of Nouvelle Vague, Hannah Peel renders the synth-pop through the medium of the punched-card music box.

The real stand-out of the EP for me, though, is not the 80s synthpop, it's her cover of Cocteau Twins' 'Sugar Hiccup'. Originally a track from the Sunburst and Snowblind EP in 1983 (on the peerless 4AD label), 'Sugar Hiccup' was a swirling fog of blissfully, ahem, sky-soaring guitars.

Hannah Peel renders it as a sweet, laconic ballad. Rather wonderful.

Watch Cocteau Twins 'Sugar Hiccup' (Youtube)

New Music - Explosions In The Sky 'Trembling Hands' (Temporary Residence/Bella Union, 2011)

Ah, the elongated instrumental fireworks of Explosions In The Sky. An awesome live band with expert mastery of the loud-quiet-louder-quieter-quieter-quieter-REALLYFUCKINGLOUD dynamic. Really interesting to listen to but definitely not good to put on late at night and fall asleep during the quiet bits (check out 'Like Herod' - YouTube link below). Then again, Explosions deal in a sweeter more hopeful version of post-rock so it's not a scary as drifting into slumber with Mogwai's 'Like Herod' on - which is severely traumatising, I can tell you.

I wasn't so keen on the last album but, after a relatively long hiatus, they're back with a new album - 'Take Care, Take Care, Take Care' - from which 'Trembling Hands' is the first thing I've heard. It's less loud-quiet and more rolling, but equally dynamic and quite lovely.

Download Explosions In The Sky 'Trembling Hands' (mp3)

Mogwai 'Like Herod' (Live, from the Special Moves album) (Youtube)

Sweet Jesus 'Phonefreak Honey' (Rough Trade, 1992)

An almight "Screeeee!" ushers in the breathless pop thrill that is 'Phonefreak Honey' by short-lived Birmingham band Sweet Jesus.

In all they released a trio of fine singles plus one in the Rough Trade Singles Club. The first of the trio was this, a seamless amalgam of Jesus and Mary Chain, T Rex, My Bloody Valentine and maybe even a bit of The Primitives.

The grinding but harmonious guitars are laden with syrupy drones and feedback. The rhythm section sets out a furious, driving pace and a sugary hermaphroditic vocal tops things off. The lyric is concerned with all manner of incomprehensible things like wave machines (or maybe I'm mis-hearing and it is "weight machine") and, of course, the aforementioned "phonefreak honey".

It's all topped with an awesome "na-na na-na na na" chorus and, speeding to the end under sheets of MBV guitars, it's all done in 150 seconds.

Download Sweet Jesus 'Phonefreak Honey' (shoegaze, indiepop, fuzz, JAMC, MBV) (Divshare) (mp3)

Sweet Jesus fan page

Sunday, 13 March 2011

New Music - Low 'Try To Sleep' (Sub Pop, 2011)

The new Low song sounds gorgeous, a gentle, almost lullaby-ish song that embodies the hushed slowcore of yore but blends in a music-box sweetness. Not as dark and brooding as the likes of 'Dinosaur Act' or 'That's How You Sing Amazing Grace' but it bodes well for the soon-come 'C'mon' album.

Download Low 'Dinosaur Act (Live, 2002)' (mp3)
Low Official -
Low on Sub Pop

Guillemots 'Trains To Brazil / Go Away' (Black Session, 2006)

Guillemots burst into being a few years ago and promised great things as a pop band of exquisite sensibilities - harmonious, infection but with an interesting grab-bag of influences from jazz to the avant-garde.

'Trains To Brazil' is a swooning, insistent, hard-bopping swing with a stream-of-conscience lyric, swirling to a thunderous close with so much going on in the mix.

After the first album and the preceding EP of singles I have say I think they lost their way a bit but listening back to the jazz-inflected groove of 'Go Away' makes me look forward to hearing the new stuff that is soon-come.

Download Guillemots 'Trains To Brazil (Black Session, 2006)' (mp3)
Download Guillemots 'Go Away (Black Session, 2006)' (mp3)

Saturday, 12 March 2011 - Top 50 Greatest Music Albums by occasionalrain

Have been tweaking up my Top 50 at Fifty isn't enough - obviously - and I've only allowed one album per artist in the list, but it's interesting to see what's there. For me, anyway.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Record Store Day is Saturday 16th April

Looking forward to Record Store Day this year, as music enthusiasts fly in the face of an ever-dwindling number of record shops and outlets for discovering new music and getting recommendations.

Record Store Day website

My Bloody Valentine 'To Here Knows When' (Creation Records, 1991)

Ah, the smeared, disorientating melodic magma of 'To Here Knows When'. It heralded the release of the what might be the best album ever made - 'Loveless' of course - moving My Bloody Valentine's sound away from the pummelling beats of 'Soon' and towards the murky soundworld of that trademark album.

By this stage Kevin Shields - MBV's genius in chief - was locked into a spiral of tinnitus-inducing recording and escalating studio costs, losing himself in his quest for the perfect drone. The bankrupting of Creation and all that is well documented elsewhere (and in the new Creation Records film) but 'To Here Knows When' best represents the quest to create a sound that serves to immerse and blanket the listener.

Encountering the track for the first time, the smudged waves of guitar and highly treated vocals wash over an enwrap you, shifting focus and confusing your mind-ears. At first it doesn't make sense - in much the same way as listening to 'Bitches Brew' for the first time is incomprehensible - but through repeated exposure it all begins to make beautiful sense.

Unofficial My Bloody Valentine website

Upside Down: The Creation Records story - film website

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pale Saints 'Porpoise' (Live at Brixton Academy, 1991)

Pale Saints are one of my favourite bands - the first two albums and attendant EPs, anyway. They perfectly captured a balance between exquisite melody, skysoaring wonder and fragile, passionate beauty. A mighty meeting between shoegazing and progressive rock.

'Porpoise' was originally on the 'Flesh Balloon' EP (4AD) which came as a precursor to their 'In Ribbons' album, an opus which proved to effectively be their swansong, Ian Masters leaving the band to pursue his own vision and leaving the rest of the band to pursue a much more linear exposition of their art.

Sadly, I never got to see them live but there's a whole set from Brixton Academy (from when they supported Pixies in 1991) knocking around the Youtube on video that captures the heads-down focus on a Pale Saints gig. No gaps between songs, the usual space for applause and tuning replaced by little link pieces. Yes, that's very prog but it works.

'Porpoise' itself is a supple strident thing, by turns stalking the deep, then thrashing into life. Love it.

Download Pale Saints 'Porpoise (Live at Brixton Academy, 1991)' (mp3)

New Music - Fleet Foxes 'Helplessness Blues' (Sub Pop/Bella Union, 2011)

My first contemporary post (!) is to point out the amazing majesty of Fleet Foxes on the first new song to emerge from the new album is just staggering.

'Helplessness Blues' opens with a strident acoustic strum that brings early Simon And Garfunkel in protest mode to mind. That then melts into a rolling, harmony-drenched section with wafts of electric guitar, a vista across the wide open plains of Robin Pecknold's imagining.

"If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm sore," he intones as the music is stripped away to almost nothing.


Listen to and download Fleet Foxes 'Helplessness Blues' now

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Honey Tongue 'Let's Sail Away' (Playtime Records, 1992)

Honey Tongue was seemingly a one-off collaboration between Josephine Wiggs (ex-Perfect Disaster and bassist in the Breeders) and Jon Mattock (drummer with Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized). 'Let's Sail Away' is the final, widescreen closing track from an album - 'Nude Nudes' - that seems to have been overlooked massively.

'Nude Nudes' was the soundtrack to my lazy summer of 1992 and The Breeders' hazy, sparse but muscularly sexy debut album was fresh in my mind, leading me to investigate this when it came out. While the Honey Tongue record doesn't have the amped-up, electric guitar attack of the Breeders' 'Pod', it does have a poise and smouldering atmosphere to match it.

It's beautifully observed songs of love, lust and longing were perfectly served by straightforward, unshowy drums, strident base and interweaving layers of acoustic guitar. Wiggs' sings her vignettes in an unsettlingly controlled tone and perhaps the opening track 'Driver' would been a more obvious choice.

'Let's Sail Away' though is a cinematic tale of longing to be cast adrift with your significant other, the tracking building then breaking down then building again over lovely clean guitar lines and Wiggs' sonorous vocals.

Roll the credits.

Let's Sail Away (mp3)

Thursday, 3 March 2011

MJ Cole - Sincere (Metrix/A&M, 1998)

On first encountering this record, it sounded like it came from another dimension. The rolling breakbeats rendered alien by the lack of treble, before bursting into full-spectrum life.

I'm not sure where I first heard it (it certainly wasn't in a club), but it made me stop, double-take and desperately try to process/understand the sound I was hearing.

I love records that don't make sense when you first hear them - LFO by LFO, Blue Monday, Beautiful Pigeon by Moonshake, lots of Autechre's stuff, for example. With 'Sincere', classically-trained Matthew (J Cole), crafted a deeply soulful tune with enough subtle tweaks and twists to engage brain and body. Every element is utterly processed and treated but retains a yearning, authentic passion, riding on top of irresistable groove.


MJ Cole page at Prolific Recordings