Sunday, 31 July 2011

My Life Story '17 Reasons Why I Love Her' (Parlophone, 1996)

My Life Story 12 Reasons Why I Love Her 17 Reasons Extended Version Parlophone Britpop Indie 1996
My Life Story's finest moment - elongated.

The original version - '12 Reasons Why I Love Her' - is a towering, (melo)dramatic piece of orchestral pop that snuck into the charts in mid-nineties under cover of Britpop. Absolute full-on heart-on-sleeve stuff from Jake Shillingford and his ensemble.

Through the excellent 'Mornington Crescent' album and singles like 'Funny Ha Ha', My Life Story built up to this statement of intent. String section stabs, thunderous drum roll intro, dramatic cello undertow, trumpet stabs, yearning vocals, no real chorus because it's pretty much all chorus.

This extended version adds a baroque intro that ratchets up the tension for when the drum roll finally drops, announcing the track and leading us into five extra reasons.


Download My Life Story '17 Reasons Why I Love Her' (Indie, Britpop, mp3) (Mediafire)

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Gallops 'Miami Spider' (Live, 2010)

Gallops Live Miami Spider Battles Bttls Post Rock Math Rock mp3 download
Expertly twiddled stuff from the Bttls-inspired Wrexham band.

Gallops coax a twitchy, head-nodding math rock brew that fuses laptop-driven beats and keyboard bleats with more conventional band instrumentation. You can't escape the pervading influence of genre-definers Battles but it's a tight and tidy sound, especially live. And the drummer does a fantastic twitch, seemingly on every beat.

Not as frenetic as Three Trapped Tigers, Gallops ratchet up the intensity through melody and groove, hitting a similarly dance-tastic plane as Foals.

Download Gallops 'Miami Spider (Live)' (post rock mp3 download, Mediafire)

Friday, 29 July 2011

Lemonheads 'Luka' (Taang, 1989)

Rough'n'ready Suzanne Vega cover by the original indie rock incarnation of the Lemonheads.

Before Evan Dando found fame off the back of a cover of 'Mrs. Robinson' - and the admittedly wonderful 'It's A Shame About Ray' album - the Lemonheads were a scrawnier, rougher-around-the-edges indie rock proposition. And a bit more ACDC than Big Star.

They still had a way with a good cover version as evidenced by their soaralong version of (ex-Monkee) Mike Nesmith's Country Rock classic 'Different Drum' (a post for another day I guess).

This version of Suzanne Vega's child abuse tale 'Luka' ditches the sweetness of the original for a knock-about, almost dirgey in places, version that probably suits the subject matter better than the original. The boxing and fighting footage in the video is pretty direct too.

Download Lemonheads 'Luka (Suzanne Vega cover)' (indie rock mp3 download, Mediafire)

Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Springfields 'Tranquil' (Seminal Twang, 1991)

The Springfields Tranquil seven inch 7 Seminal Twang 1991 Pastels Indie Pop Twee Sarah Records vinyl rip
More jingly-jangly powerpop-meets-twee wonderment from Ric Menck and Pauly Chastain's pre-Velvet Crush band.

'Tranquil' was released in the same burst of activity that saw them issue forth the 'Wonder' 7" on Sarah Records. This time it was a 7" on the excellently-named Seminal Twang label - which also put out a wonderful 7" by Melody Dog.

The A-side - 'Tranquil' - is a beat-driven, head-lolling slice of fey, twee pop that laments the likelihood that singer Ric Menck isn't going to Get The Girl. "I'll spend all of my life, thinking about her" goes the chorus' 12-string-enhanced refrain.

To add to the Primal Scream homage on their 'Wonder' 7" and the cover The Pastels' 'A Million Tears' on the b-side, 'Tranquil' is a cover of a song by The Clouds (you can get it over on the Take The Pills blog). The Springfields must have done a Masters in Scottish Indie Pop as The Clouds, it turns out, were a band featuring Norman Blake who was later, of course, to end up 1) in Teenage Fanclub and 2) on Creation Records alongside Ric Menck and Paul Chastain's Velvet Crush. Small Indie world...

Anyway, 'Tranquil' is anything but and it hurtles along, winding up to climax with a wonderful two-note guitar solo and is gone.


Download The Springfields 'Tranquil' (indie pop mp3, Mediafire)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

New Music - Big Deal 'Chair' (Mute, 2011)

Big Deal Lights Out Indie Duo Mute Records 2011 album Chair single
More electric folk from Big Deal.

Very impressed with Big Deal's two 7" releases so far - 'Homework' and 'Talk' - and have managed to catch them live too.

They make a fairly simple boy-girl vocals plus electric-acoustic guitar set-up work really well, mixing sweet harmonies with an edge of distortion. A little bit Sebadoh, a little bit early PJ Harvey, but very much their own thing.

'Chair' is followed swiftly by their debut album which is released on August 29th.

Big Deal - Chair by Big Deal

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

New - Neverest Songs 'Paper Trumpets' (Tea At Yours, 2011)

Neverest Songs Paper Trumpets Softly Quite Softly Tea At Yours seven inch folk shoegaze Luke Twyman
Gorgeous, subtle, folk-gazer stuff from multi-instrumentalist Luke Twyman aka Neverest Songs.

'Paper Trumpets' is simple and of spartan arrangement but full of life and melody and lets the music really breathe. It melds a folk-y sensibility with shoegaze-y melodicism and circular, ensemble singing in the mode of A Silver Mt. Zion.

File next to the similarly talented Peter Broderick, Tunng, Hannah Peel (whose album was co-produced by Tunng's Mike Lindsay), Sufjan Stevens and the exquisitely arranged prog-pop of Spoonfed Hybrid.

Unbelieveably beautiful and entrancing, drawing you in with each listen. Backed with 'Softly, Quite Softly, Quite Softly' which rocks a brass section. As you do.

Highly recommended. Look forward to seeing him at the Green Man Festival.

Seven-inch vinyl release available direct from the artist.

Paper Trumpets by Neverest Songs

Foals 'Olympic Airways' (Live at Coachella, 2011)

Foals Live Coachella 2011 mp3
Crack live take on 'Antidotes' classic by road-hardened Foals.

Foals seem to have spent the best part of a year on the road and it shows in the extra muscularity and control they have over their sound. I witnessed this - from outside a packed tent - at the Pulp Wireless 'festival' at the start of July.

You can hear their development in the way they approach both new and old material in their Coachella set from April. Old songs are given fresh impetus with adaptations and new songs are subtly extemporised. The Coachella live set is well worth tracking down.

This version of 'Olympic Airways' is both as tight and as funky as its ever been but the intro and instrumental break are approached anew, offering new angles and freshness.

Download Foals 'Olympic Airways (Live at Coachella)' (alternative indie mp3 download) (Mediafire)

Download the whole Coachella set over on Archive: Live & Rare mp3s.

NB. Setlist scan borrowed with thanks from the 'Whatever Happened To My Rock and Roll' blog.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Peter Broderick 'Roscoe (Midlake Cover)' (Bella Union, 2008)

Peter Broderick Roscoe Midlake Cover Bella Union seven inch single vinyl rip download mp3

The awesomely talented Peter Broderick turns in suitably unique alternative folk meets bluegrass Klezmer take on Midlake's finest moment.

Indie folkers Midlake's 'Roscoe' was a stand-out track on their 'Trials Of Van Occupanther' album, a lush, brown velvet jacket of folk-rock imagining. Already remixed in a different direction by Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve, Bella Union labelmate Peter Broderick turns in a re-version as opposed to a re-mix.

It opens with woodland atmospherics, sombre strings, Broderick's lone voice and some sparse piano accompaniment. It has the air of Set Fire To Flames (a Godspeed You! Black Emporer side project) before picking up pace and feeling more like a campfire signalong as banjo and percussion are added. Very gorgeous.

Download Peter Broderick 'Roscoe' (Indie Alternative Folk, mp3) (Mediafire)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Tindersticks - A Marriage Made In Heaven (Rough Trade Singles Club, 1993)

Tindersticks A Marriage Made In Heaven Rough Trade Singles Club indie mp3 seven inch single download

Gorgeous collaboration between Tindersticks and Huggy Bear's Niki Sin in homage to Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra.

One-off collaboration between Tindersticks and Huggy Bear's Niki Sin from 1993. It was released as part of the Rough Trade Singles Club which maintained a pretty spectacular level of quality across its collection of seven inch vinyl releases. The series effectively documented some of the key players in the early nineties indie alternative scene with exclusive singles by The Auteurs, Butterfly Child, Mercury Rev, Mazzy Star, Ultramarine (a remix of indie electronic bliss-out 'Saratoga'), Levitation and not forgetting Sweet Jesus.

'A Marriage Made In Heaven' is a bright and breezy tune that wears its Lee 'n' Nancy fascination very much on its sleeve. And the single's sleeve too.

Stuart Staples and Niki Sin manage to deliver a bristling chemistry whilst the band create a jaunty pace led by bright guitar chords, rolling rhythm section and some driving strings.

It's more in line with Tindersticks 'City Sickness' or their cover of David Bowie's 'Kooks' on the 'Unwired' EP rather than their shambling cover of 'We Have all The Time In The World' or their later soundtrack work with Claire Denis.

Download Tindersticks 'A Marriage Made In Heaven' (indie mp3 download, mp3, Box)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Blessed Ethel 'Rat' (2 Damn Loud, 1994)

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Strident, punkish indie rock, UK-style from Blessed Ethel

Two minutes of feisty, raw indie rock that starts out brooding in a Siouxsie And The Banshees, minor key kind of way before building to an earworm of a chorus.

Rough around the edges but well catchy, it's like a brattish, untrained version of Sleeper or a pre-punk (as opposed to post-punk) version of Elastica.

Download Blessed Ethel 'Rat' (indie mp3 download, Mediafire)

New Music - Class Actress 'Keep You' (Car Park, 2011)

Class Actress Keep You Carpark Records Chill Wave Electronic Indie Pop mp3 stream
Elegant and icy earworm from the label that brought you Toro Y Moi.

Stumbled across this on one of those random blog trawls that I do from time to time, ending up at the Carpark Records site.

Class Actress serve up a slice gorgeously, austere of chill-wave electronic indie pop that sounds like Karen O fronting Soft Cell or early Depeche Mode. After a couple of listens it had burrowed its way into my brain and now I can't get it out.

Class Actress is apparently a duo, one of whom is a drama "major" from LA, the other is a psychoanalyst-in-training. Cool backstory...

Anyways, until their debut album ('Rapprocher') is released in October, you can find out more (but not much more) about Class Actress at their Tumblr page.

Stream/download 'Keep You' by Class Actress (indie electronic pop)

Or Watch the video for 'Keep You' on Youtube.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Gene & Jim Are Into Shakes 'Shake (Part One)' (Rough Trade, 1988)

Gene And Jim Are Into Shakes Shake! How About A Sampling Gene? Rough Trade 1988 Indie Dance mp3 seven inch single vinyl rip

Sampladelic, pioneering indie-dance crossover gem from 1988.

I know nothing about Messrs. Gene and Jim and I'm pretty sure there wasn't a follow-up single, but 'Shake' is a catchy, Akai S900-powered tune that stands on its own. It fuses a four-to-the-floor beat with a slamming bassline, Batman samples, screeching guitar, a bit of Marilyn Monroe, some wicked Latin trumpet and a lush chorus.

Along with Pop Will Eat Itself, 'Shake' represents one of the parallel current in indie music in the late 1980s as dance music became an increasing influence. This hybrid of drum machine and samples followed in the wake of significant indie label hits for S'Express, Bomb The Bass (both on Mute subsidiary Rhythm King) and 4AD's 'Pump Up The Volume' by MARRS.

The other indie-dance fusion brewing, of course, was the more organic collision of euphoric, nay Ballearic, groove and indie instrumentation as evidenced by Happy Mondays, New Fast Automatic Daffodils et al.

Despite indie labels being able to rule the charts with dance crossover hits, Gene & Jim (on indie powerhouse Rough Trade) were unable to follow suit. However, their spirit lives on in the indie disco in the sky - coming up after the DJ has given Pop Will Eat Itself's 'Def Con One' another spin.

Download Gene And Jim Are Into Shakes 'Shake! (How About A Sampling, Gene?) (7" Version)' (mp3) (Box)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Codeine 'Atmosphere (Joy Division cover)' (Hut, 1995)

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Stately, austere Post Rock cover of Joy Division's stately, austere Post Punk classic.

Codeine dealt in the slowest of the slow in Post Rock terms, releasing a handful of records in the early 1990s on Sub Pop. (NB. For me, the 'Barely Real' EP is a must-have.) Their songs oozed across the vinyl, catching you out with their almost hesitant poise.

The idea of Codeine covering one of Joy Division's most funereal moments makes you think that the track is going to reach a kind of absolute zero musical state, its atoms ceasing to oscillate. They don't play it like that though, instead it's a processional but respectful reading that stands alongside Low's version of 'Transmission' from the same cover album.

It's a much more skeletal version than the original's warm, comforting wash, finding a respectful but alternative angle which occasionally pauses, as if to reflect on the words' portents. Some bare, gently over-driven guitar wraps it up.

Download Codeine 'Atmosphere' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Listening Post - Little Dragon 'Ritual Union' (Peacefrog, 2011)

Little Dragon Ritual Union Peacefrog Album Indie Alternative Stream Full Album Preview
Third album featuring one of the stand-out vocalists from the awesome SBTRKT album.

Yukimi Nagano's guest vocals on 'Wildfire' from the SBTRKT album were perfect - a soulful, yearning complement to the electronic, post-dubstep soundworld of SBTRKT.

Little Dragon's third album delivers a similar combination of organic and icy, inorganic textures on this, their third, album.

01. Ritual Union
02. Little Man
03. Brush the Heat
04. Shuffle a Dream
05. Please Turn
06. Crystalfilm
07. Precious
08. Nightlight
09. Summertearz
10. When I Go Out
11. Seconds

Released on July 25th on Peacefrog/EMI.

Listen to Little Dragon 'Ritual Union' in full (Full album stream, courtest of NPR)

Afghan Whigs 'Uptown Avondale EP' (Sub Pop, 1992)

Afghan Whigs Uptown Avondale EP Sub Pop Come See About Me Band Of Gold 1992
Motown/soul covers EP from the heart of Sub Pop.

The Afghan Whigs had already released their cover of The Supremes' 'My World Is Empty Without You' which is an amazing record in both original and cover versions (memo to self: post that one). They followed it with 'Uptown Avondale' a whole EP of covers.

Matching power and twisted melody, it's a true triumph that paved the way for other alt rock bands and should probably have featured on at least one of Quentin Tarantino's soundtracks.

1. Band Of Gold
2. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road
3. Come See About Me
4. Beware (plus hidden track: Milez Is Dead (Remix)

Download Afghan Whigs 'Uptown Avondale EP' (320k mp3, ZIP) (Rapidshare)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Powder 'Afrodisiac' (Parkway, 1995) (mp3)

Powder Afrodisiac Parkway Britpop
Short-lived Britpoppers deliver catchy guitar-led single shock.

Powder were signed to Britpop publicists Savidge and Best's Parkway label. Savidge and Best were the PRs who represented Suede, Pulp, The Auteurs and Menswear amongst others, which casts a slight air of suspicion over Powder but this is a cracking track.

Powder released a trio of singles but Pearl Lowe is now better known for endeavours outside the band and being mother of Daisy Lowe.

'Afrodisiac' was their second single and it's a firey, wirey mini-blitzkrieg with a machine gun chorus. Lyrics are total bollocks but that's part of the fun. Produced by Paul Tipler who also put the finishing touches on Midway Still's best indie rock stuff.

Knowing bandnames, publicists and the diminishing returns of Britpop aside, I still think this is a tasty single.

Download: Powder 'Afrodisiac' (mp3) (Rapidshare)


Monday, 18 July 2011

Breeders 'Peel Session April 2nd 1990' (mp3)

Breeders 1990 line up Peel Session April 1990 4AD Pod Steve Albini
First and only Peel Session by the best line-up of the mighty Breeders, the indie-alternative supergroup against which all others should be measured.

The Breeders' 'Pod' album is a sultry, smouldering, almost fetid album. It's raw and powerful, somehow contriving an unexpected level of originality from the old guitar-bass-drums line-up.

Like the album, this Peel Session was produced, sorry, recorded by Steve Albini and is a perfect aperitif for that album. Indeed, Steve Albini legendarily confirmed that he considered 'Pod' amongst his best work in an online poker forum in 2007.

Live takes on four of the album's tracks show what a superb line-up the initial Breeders were - Pixies' Kim Deal, Throwing Muses' Tanya Donnelly, The Perfect Disaster's Josephine Wiggs and Slint's drummer Britt Walford (credited as Shannon Doughton to preserve the all-female story, I believe). The rhythm section, in particular, rocks hard and Jo Wiggs would go on to release the Honey Tongue album 'Nude Nudes' which is one of my faves.

I've rescued the session from an old cassette recorded off John Peel's radio show, so apologies for a little hiss.


1. When I Was A Painter
2. Iris
3. Fortunately Gone
4. Hellbound

Download Breeders 'Peel Session April 1990' (320k mp3, ZIP) (Rapidshare)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

LFO 'LFO' (Warp, 1990)

LFO LFO Album Version Leeds Frequencies Warp Electronica Techno Alternative Genius Discontinuity
'Shock of the new' moment of discontinuity from Leeds' LFO and Warp Records.

Hearing 'LFO' for the first time was one of those moments where the track doesn't make sense the first time you hear it. It sounds wrong because it breaks with what you think music is supposed to sound like. Moonshake's 'Beautiful Pigeon' and New Order's 'Blue Monday' were similarly discontinuities in my musical eduction.

I can't remember where I heard it first but I think it would have been Radio Leeds' indie/alternative radio show on a Monday night. The bleeps rang through the medium wave okay but the bass just sounded like gaps in the track, meaning that when I then heard it properly it blew my mind all over again.

LFO went on to deliver some more sublime records - 'Freak' and 'Tied Up' for starters - but nothing matches this for its sheer 'shock of the new' magic.


Download LFO 'LFO' (mp3 download) (Mediafire)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

My Life Story 'Funny Ha Ha EP' (Mother Tongue, 1994) (zip)

My Life Story Funny Ha Ha EP Mother Tongue 1994 Mother3CD Britpop
Proto-Britpop orchestral pop elegance from My Life Story.

This is an early self-released EP by the wonderful My Life Story who were a kind of flamboyant, major-key parallel band to The Divine Comedy or The Auteurs, releasing some gorgeous orchestral and baroque string-driven pop.

Busting a twelve-piece, heavily orchestral line-up, singer/songwriter/driving force Jake Shillingford cut a maverick figure in the pre-Britpop years - maybe something of a precursor to the wonderful Patrick Wolf, though going a little easier at the dressing-up box.

My Life Story later signed to EMI but never made the breakthrough they deserved and faded away, seemingly embittered by the experience of being processed through the major label machine. According to the Jake Shillingford website, he now lectures on the importance of autonomy in the music industry.

This EP shows them in fine form. 'Funny Ha Ha' is piled with swirling strings, catchy melodies, memorable lyrics and is utterly irresistable with 'Funny Peculiar' a companion, stripped-down chamber/lounge version. 'The Lady Is A Tramp' is a driving, strident groover and 'These Words Are Haunting' is a moodier end-of-the-relationship ballad, draped in picked and strummed acoustic guitar and some crazy flute.

A top quality EP package.

B-sides/rarities and greatest hits CDs are available direct from Jake Shillingford's online store and are highly recommended.

1. Funny Ha Ha
2. The Lady Is A Tramp
3. These Words Are Haunting
4. Funny Peculiar

Download My Life Story 'Funny Ha Ha EP' (320k mp3, ZIP) (Mediafire)

Friday, 15 July 2011

Chia Pet 'Hey Baby' (Kokopop, 1992) (mp3)

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Buzzsaw indie pop railing against casual sexism on the streets of Brooklyn, 1992.

Short and sweet, this song burst its way into the indie pop scene of 1992 by way of simultaneous Single Of The Week status in the NME and Melody Maker. Its delightfully sneered, arch vocal recounts a series of sexist interludes in singer Christina Kelly's day - "I'm just walking down the street minding my own business, construction worker says Nice Tits..."

The music is dominated by staccato violin (played by Jane Pratt, then editor of US alt bible Sassy magazine), buzzsaw guitar and the shoutalong chorus, creating a frantic slice of indie rock/indie pop, produced by the mythic Kramer.

Play it again and again and again, it's a Repeater.

Download Chia Pet 'Hey Baby' (mp3) (Divshare)

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Stump 'Down On The Kitchen Table (Peel Session)' (Strange Fruit, 1987)

Stump Peel Session 1986 Strange Fruit Radio Session Experimental Indie mp3
Bendy, indie experimentalism from the unique minds of Stump.

'Down On The Kitchen Table' from Stump's debut Peel Session in 1986 comes over like a rush, a stream of consciousness in terms of both its lyrics and its music. That certainly seemed like a unique combination to me and pushed the envelope when compared to likes of 'Buffalo' and 'Charlton Heston' (with its Tim Pope-directed video) which only displayed three or four dimensions of musical imagination.

This particular track requires a little more processing in order to enter Stump's very particular, peculiar sound world.

Angular experimental indie funk hurtles along while adroit lyrics about cats, tap rooms, Young Conservatives and patio evenings spin out of the maelstrom. Time signatures shift and lurch and the closing section spins and burps to a crazy close.

Pretty much unique twenty-five years ago, certainly not matched in the years since.

Download Stump 'Down On The Kitchen Table' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Download the whole Peel Session over at Archive: Live + Rare (mp3) (Mediafire)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Red House Painters 'Japanese To English' (4AD, 1992)

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Almost desolate, post-rock flavoured songsmithery.

'Japanese To English' is a key track from Red House Painters' debut album, a selection of songs from the demo tape that was sent to label founder Ivo Watts-Russell. He was so blown-away that six tracks were released forthwith with only moderate tarting-up.

It's a stunning record of a soul laid bare over often stark but beautiful music. Not beautiful in the then-typical 4AD way - elaborate cathedrals of sounds and fountains of impressionistic, effects-heavy indie soundscaping like Cocteau Twins, Lush et al - but a more natualistic, austere beauty. It may even have something of the air of Bon Iver's debut album about it.

'Japanese To English' rolls plaintively, guitars chiming over a procession of bass and drums. Rich and sombre but very gorgeous in an alternative kind of way.

Download Red House Painters 'Japanese To English' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Seefeel 'Climatic Phase #3 (Overnight Mix)' (Too Pure, 1993)

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Where shoegaze met dub, ambience, drones and post-rock for a blissed-out moment.

Another great album from the original wave of Too Pure artists - see Moonshake, PJ Harvey, Th' Faith Healers, Pram, Long Fin Killie for more dispatches from that golden age.

Seefeel were one of the first bands to adapt ambient dub and electronica into a live, band set-up, extending the scope of what an indie band could be and moving post-rock another iteration away from guitar-bass-drums orthodoxy.

This mix of 'Climatic Phase #3' from their debut 'Quique' album softens the dub thump of the original and creates an even more opiated fog, an aural comfort blanket. Drift away to the gentle ebb and flow of angelic looping feedback like the less aggressive My Bloody Valentine of 'To Here Knows When'.

They went on to record for Warp which, in hindsight, seems like their natural home but seemed a fairly radical cross-over point at the time. There was also a new album this year (self-titled released on Warp) which moved further away from flowing soundscapes and deeper into fractured experimentalism.

Download Seefeel 'Climatic Phase #3 (Overnight Mix)' (free mp3 download) (Mediafire)

Monday, 11 July 2011

Can 'Vitamin C (UNKLE Remix)' (Spoon/Mute, 1997) (mp3)

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James Lavelle dubs and re-rubs the 'Ege Bamyasi' classic into an eight-minute, beat-led krautrock monster.

This UNKLE mix from 1997 gentle massages and echoes up the dub-quotient until the beat is monstrous and the momentum undeniable. More angular and less conventional than Can's 'I Want More' which I posted about last week.

James Lavelle does enough to make the remix interesting, taking the track somewhere different without detracting from what was great about the original. Pretty clever that.

Download Can 'Vitamin C (UNKLE Remix)' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Left Banke 'Desiree' (Smash, 1968) (mp3)

Delicious, strident and swirling piece of baroque sixties pop.

The Left Banke crafted two albums of baroque, string-laden pop and also wrote 'Walk Away Renee' which was made (most) famous by The Four Tops.

By the time of their second album ('Too') principal songwriter Michael Brown had left making just one contribution to the album. 'Desiree' builds to an urgent, storming pace from an intro of voice and cello, taking in brass, strings and lashings of harmonies.

Recently released on Sundazed along with their debut album.

Download The Left Banke 'Desiree' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The La's 'Callin' All (Nicky Campbell Session)' (BBC, 2006)

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As the rumours circulate of another reunion, the closest thing I could find to a new La's track.

Apparently, Lee Mavers played a secret gig the other week and another reunion is on the way. Still no sign of any new material since that debut album.

This cut is a session recording of 'Callin' All' was recorded for a live session in 1990. It's a song that dates back to before the debut album and this version - like all the versions on the BBC Sessions collection - is wired and fizzing with energy.


Download The La's 'Callin' All (Nicky Campbell Session)' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Friday, 8 July 2011

New Music - Wooden Shjips 'Lazy Bones' (Thrill Jockey, 2011) (mp3)

Wooden Shjips West Lazy Bones mp3 download
Messy, locomotive psych boogie from the mighty Wooden Shjips.

Lovely, insistent, rolling piece of messy, gently psychedelic boogie from San Francisco's Wooden Shjips. Makes me think of Can if they'd come from the west coast of America.

From their upcoming album 'West' which is their first for Thrill Jockey. Released in September.

Download Wooden Shjips 'Lazy Bones' (mp3) (Pitchfork)

The Woodentops 'Love Train' (Rough Trade, 1986)

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Clattering, insistent stuff from one of the great under-rated bands.

Sadly, I didn't pay much attention to The Woodentops at the time, despite being introduced to this wonderful track by a freebie 7" with (long-defunct) music weekly Sounds at the time. I was young, I didn't know any better. That's my excuse.

How could I have been so stupid and not built up a collection of the band's incredible fusion of rock and dance influences? It's hard to fathom.

However, The Woodentops are still knocking around today, supporting Belle and Sebastian at the Roundhouse back in May, and still releasing music.

The consequence of my ignorance is that I have only recently picked up a (vinyl) copy of their excellent 'Giant' album and reacquainted myself with 'Love Train'.

Opening with surf-y, twanging guitar, it settles into a breakneck rockabilly groove, Rolo singing with passion and soul, invoking us to make like The O'Jays and get in rhythm with the Love Train and frug along to the cowbell-enhanced groove.

Download The Woodentops 'Love Train' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Thursday, 7 July 2011

A. R. Kane 'Lolita' (4AD, 1987)

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Whimsical, breathy dreampop with a Cocteau Twins flourish.

Utterly gorgeous stuff from A.R. Kane. A drifting, blissed out, palliative wash of proto-Shoegaze delight which briefly bursts into a chorus of Cocteau Twins-esque fireworks.

Perhaps unsurprising they get the sound spot-on as the EP was produced by Robin Guthrie.

Gorgeous though.

Download A.R.Kane 'Lolita' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Can '...And More' (Virgin, 1976)

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As the sleeve says - Top Hit In England.

Viewed from today it's hard to imagine how Can wound up on Top Of The Pops. Catchy as 'I Want More' is, it makes your brain bleed the more you think of a contemporary parallel. I'm a little envious of a time where progressive, German improvisers could find themselves introduced by Dave Lee Travis.

I would, for example, pay decent money to have seen Scouse sonic explorers Super Numeri perform 'The First League of Angels' on a revitalised Top Of The Pops in 2005. Especially if they were introduced by Reggie Yates and Fearne Cotton doing their 'piece to camera' while supping from a giant mug of mushroom tea, tears rolling down their faces.

It somehow seems about as likely as the idea of Krautrock titans Can being on Top Of The Pops in any era.

'...And More' is the extrapolated coda that formed the b-side to Can's 1976 smash hit. It's about three minutes long and surely deserves to be mashed into a twelve minute sweatbox-rocking masterpiece by Erol Alkan.

Download Can '...And More' (mp3 download) (Mediafire)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Listening Post - The Horrors 'Skying' (XL, 2011) (stream)

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The Horrors' new album in full. More dilettante Indie music with Goth and Psychedelic touches.

Never completely bought into them but they keep putting out decent tracks. 'Still Life' sounds like the best record the Psychedelic Furs never made - but I can't get it out of my head.

'Skying' is released on July 11th.

Ganger 'Guts And Bravoodoo' (Vesuvius, 1996) (mp3 download)

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More magic from the mysterious Post Rock genii Ganger.

Another piece of hard-to-find rolling, post rock majesty from a 12" EP released on the label run by Pat Laureate of Melody Dog. The other two tracks on the EP were included on the 'Fore' compilation album (released on Domino in 1996 and highly recommended).

The lush 12" vinyl lets the sonorous magic of Ganger ring through. As ever, it's a gorgeous, swirling, inviting sound, a bit like Mogwai with the noisy bits, using tone and intensity rather than volume and distortion pedals to make their impact. File alongside the similarly bass-led genius of Tortoise's debut album.

Download Ganger 'Guts And Bravoodoo' (mp3 music download) (

Monday, 4 July 2011

Isolee 'Beau Mot Plage' (Playhouse/Classic, 1999) (download)

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Wonderfully crisp and sparse piece of Balearic-tinged minimal house.

The original 'Beau Mot Plage' meanders and burbles along, creating a fascinating soundscape of minimal melodic chirrups, vibrant bass and crunchy, twitchy beats.

Tweaked to perfection in this ten-minute Freeform Reform version, some more verdant, soulful bursts are added to the variety with more breakdowns, rhythm guitar texture and some free-blowing flute.

Perfect summer bliss that would sound nice sandwiched between Ultramarine's 'Saratoga', Farley and Heller's remix of Espiritu and Flowered Up's 'Weekender'.

Download Isolee 'Beau Mot Plage' (mp3, 320k) (Mediafire)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Ultramarine 'Saratoga' (Rough Trade, 1992) (download)

Ultramarine Every Man And Woman Is A Star Rough Trade mp3 1992
Delightful, airy jazz-inflected, chilled, funky.

From the excellent 'Every Man And Woman Is A Star', 'Saratoga' is Ultramarine at their lithe, languid best. Rock an Eagles sample and adding burbling bass and sinuous synths and lots love rhythms and textures.

My introduction to Ultramarine was via a Rough Trade Singles Club 7". They presented a stunningly atypical sound when placed against the fizzing indie Mary Chain-isms of Sweet Jesus, the arch, bookish acoustic pop of The Auteurs and the progressive leanings of Levitation.

If it were a hot summer day, this would be perfect. Even if it's not, it's still a fine, fine track.

Download Ultramarine 'Saratoga' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Fall 'Bremen Nacht (Alternative)' (Beggars Banquet, 1988)

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Extended fusion of Krautrock and boogie from the career-high 'Frenz Experiment' album.

A fusion of sax and guitar riffing is driven along by some steamhammer rhythm work. It locks into a riff and stays there with just the occasional pause to draw breath and regroup.

The track's intensity and insistence matches the spat-out words of Mark E. Smith, grooving out to over nine minutes.

Download The Fall 'Bremen Nacht (Alternative)' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Friday, 1 July 2011

PJ Harvey 'Ecstasy' (Island, 1993) (download)

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Epic distorted Blues from the 'Rid Of Me' album.

'Ecstasy' is a monster of a track, shimmering and shuddering sheets of guitar orbit a powerful rhythm section that beats out a foreboding, almost Led Zeppelin-esque pulse.

Recorded by the right man for the job, Mr. Steve Albini, the sound is crystal clear and at the 'mighty' end of the Richter Scale. It delivers on the power and strength that 'Dry' implied.

The opening solo guitar used a slide to twist and bend and when PJ starts singing it sounds like she's struggling to stay on the song, hollering lustily to be heard over the maelstrom.

Mighty stuff, as John Peel used to say.

Download PJ Harvey 'Ecstasy' (mp3) (Mediafire)