Seems like a bad month for musicians. The news arrived that John Bradbury died. He played drums by The Specials and without the way he played the drums their sound wouldn't be that unique. It was the combination of punk influenced drums and that reduced reggae and ska drumming.
Don't worry mates - this will be no post about Chris Rea or Neil Young. It is just a short story happened to me a few days ago. Recently a local friend and I decided for a couple of beers in one of those many beach-bars around here. While we were sitting at the bar a mid-aged English gentlemen took place beside me and after a while he asked me for a light for his cigarette. Shortly after we started a conversation about football, discusssed the removal of Mourinho in Chelsea (what's his favourite team) and why my favourite London Team would ever be Arsenal (because my first live game in London was Arsenal vs. QPR and the best player in the team was Dennis Bergkamp). Finally we arrived in talking about music. And then he surprised me telling he played bass on the last three years of Elastica, a band that was named 20 years ago as Britpop but where more than that. Now Paul Jones is working as A&R for Rough Trade Music. So he signed Warpaint for RT and we talked a lot about famous indie bands throughout the last 30 years. I was impressed when he told me that he played some sessions with Mark E. Smith and John Lydon and that they have a very common sense about making Music. Finally we talked about his latest sign Fat White Family. I knew their newest song Whitest Boy On Beach since a few weeks and thoughed about to post it when I am back home. It is a song based deeply in industrial music, played in the mid 80s and worth to be played. But watching the Video I felt irritated. I don't like that nazi-inspirated, fascist affetation torture someone in a bunker at the seaside. He told me that the band want's to provoke with this Video. I answered that the band should let their music speak an he told about A&R strategies. In this Point we couldn't find an Agreement. But anyway, we walked away with shaking hands.
In retrospective I've to say that it was a very good year in Music. After finishing my year's list of albums I tried to add up the Songs that I used to listen often this year. But Drew postet his list a few days ago and I agree a lot to him. Some of them were new to me - others would appear on my list as well. If you ask me for the one song this year I would answer it's Mike Garry and Joe Duddel - St Anthony: An ode to Anthony H. Wilson. This last reference to Manchester's big man touched my soul really.
Like ever Andrew Weatherall made a great song better:
From Calgary, Canada, Viet Cong appeared with an album in the Tradition of post-punk added with a lot of industrial music. This album recorded last year brings back the time when in music everything was possible and new. Songs with stoic industrial grooves, wailing guitars and a voice that fits perfect to the songs. I'm not sure if this record will be a mark but I supect more bands will appear with this post-punk/industrial sound.
No pop album touched me like the first album by Oh Wonder. The actual couple Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht made a record full of perfect arranged Songs. Simply bewitched pop-hymns with fancy samples and perfect timed piano parts. All songs sung with a perfect harmony. Gucht's voice give them songs a Kind of easiness you might heared seldom.
Sexwitch, the side project of Bat For Lashes' Natasha Khan is also one of those records that I played often this year. For me it is a perfect combination of old and new. Old because the songs were translated covers from varying locations worldwide; new because of its instrumentation falls within the decidedly Western guitar-bass-drums paradigm. The whole thing is reminiscent of early Krautrock — Amon Düül II, Can, et al — where percussive repetition and effects-laden guitars are the salient features of a lengthy jam. For an example, at almost eight minutes long “Kassidat El Hakka”, a re-working of a Moroccan folk song, is Khan and co.’s most prolonged venture. Its refrains oscillate between the prophetic (“it will linger in your soul”) and the agnostic (“I am fleeing / but I do not know what from”). Tension is built, eased, and reestablished through the layering of ambient noise over the track’s incisive guitar riff and cyclical drumbeat. Khan’s voice carves its own route through the mire, with her lyrical reiterations periodically devolving into climatic shrieks and yelps. This is the most raw and unhinged she’s ever sounded, and it’s mesmerising.All in all it will be a record that sounds fresh even in the upcoming years.
I am not really into world music but early this year this record impressed me much. A bunch or musicans under the control of the French Producer Liam Farrel made one of the most surprisingly records this year. It's difficult to describe their Music so I let other one's do it for me:
... we're hovering in some cosmic extra-terrestrial junkyard-funk domain where wild Congolese rhythms and sweet, sweet melodies can co-exist harmoniously with post-punk clatter, electronic interference, in-the-red racketeering and rubbery bass lines equally indebted to dubwise operators and P-Funk legends ala Bootsy Collins. The whole glorious, ramshackle but still – just about - controlled mess translates into simultaneously cacophonic and immensely infectious union between handmade mutant disco and abstract Afro-Beat that sounds tailor-made to set the backsides gyrating in some glossy sci-fi boozery of the not-so-near future.
Although it sounds absolutely nothing like them, the hyperactively percussive yet still sparingly upholstered From Kinshasa brings to mind both Jamie xx's Gil Scott Heron reboot We're New Here and Sun Araw and M Geddes Gengras's psychedelic dub workout with roots legends The Congos (Icon Give Life), in the sense that it exists in a musical no man's land that neither party - nor anyone else - has trod on before ... (by The Line Of Best Fit).
I've nothing to add. Simply funky good vibes from the Congo.
In the first years of this century The Libertines appeared on the scene. A young band with much talent in songwriting played their music with verve and enthusiasm so that it was logically that they became famous. But booze and drugs ruined taken by Pete Doherty ruined the fundament of the band and Carl Barât kicked him out of the band. Doherty took some start-ups to get rid of his depedence of heroin. It seems that his rehab in Thailand was successful and The Libertines came up with a new record in autumn this year. Anthems For The Doomed Youth is thelLogical advancement of their sound. They are still able to write great Forward driven songs and ballads. Sure, the songs are often a reflection of Doherty's last years but anyway it's good that they are back again.
Richard Thompson accompanied me during the last 30 years. And almost every new record is good one. This man and his guitar are cult by many artists a critical favourite. I don't have to lose many words about him, his career and his influences in music. By typing these word I remhttps://youtu.be/wZBoGcj9aHEember him and his small band playing live a few month ago. It was a magic evening seeing him playing his new songs and his classics. On my opinion he had as much fun as the audience. His last record Still is once more a superb one. Filled with a lot of great songs. Ballads, up-tempo songs and his his reluctant guitar made some evenings complete this year at my place.
Wolf Alice is a four-piece alternative rock band based in North London and transformed from a folk band to a grunge inspired band. Their first full length album My Love Is Cool is more than another alternative record. Wolf Alice combines more musical influences in their sound. It's a superb combination of distorted guitars, folk and electronic music. This record impressed me when I listened to it the first time (like many others this year), but I listened to it more this year then I thought. I think it is because they have a broad spectrum of music and their songs between aggressivity and melancholy.
It's hard to describe Jamie XX's first full length album In Colours. Of course it is a masterpiece in electronic music. Not only because he's looking back in music history to sample some really fine tunes or for the fact he made the finest dancefloor ballads for long time. For me it has been an album I put on the turntable when I found calmness on my own. It's a record to let one's mind wander. The more you listen to the songs you'll find more and more details in it. Never thought that he could turn the dark mood of the XX records turn in optimistic music like this.
Ryley Walker released with Primrose Green an album that impressed me much and took me back to long gone times when artist like Van Morrison or Tim Buckley were on the scene. Ryley Walker is an artist that combines old style folk-songs with heavenly jazz-tingled groove with reminiscent of Pentangle, the way John Martyn forces his way of jazz, blues, folk and rock. It's an album I listen very often this year and I like the songs he gave to us. Ryley is on of those artists that assured me seeing him playing live. For me it is a perfect symbiosis of picking guitar in a blues theme and singing his lyrics to. Seldom listened to an artist that impressed me more playing his songs and singing the lyrics. It is some kind of timeless music you could listen to for the rest of your life.
Last Funky Friday I posted a few tracks by Bush Tetras a NYC-based post-punk band from the early 80s. The Swede commented that these songs are similar to one of his favourite artists of the last past years: Lonelady, a Manchester based project by Julie Ann Campbell. Campbell works the way up with the same means in dreariness, brutality and decay like before her already Joy Division, Gang Of Four, Wire and some other more, merely around the knowledge of Techno complements. The postal-industrial formula rises with her again crack-freshly. Sometimes I think she bows to the post-industrial Manchester sound where the bass was the main leading instrument and the guitar was sharp to contrast the songs. And Hinterland sometimes sound like you are on an industrial dancefloor. It is one of those records I think I will get old with.
It's hard to handle when you are a musician and your name is Courtney. This name is occupied in rock music by Courtney Love and grunge rock in the 90s together with Curt Cobain, the demonstrated role model of grunge at these times. What could a mid twenty girl from down under to come out of the shadow of Mrs. Love? Making a record that was one of the best debut albums this year. She made a record full of heavy current that needs no scandals to get a notice of this music. Distorted riffs, overcharged vocals and great songs on a record with the best title. Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit is more than another slacker record. What fascinates me is Courtney's voice. She's blessed with a captivating timbre that sometimes world-rapt-fragile, sometimes sounds also erotically challenging. Her songs are the perfect fusion of grunge and ambitious philosophical folk. If you're not into the sound of the songs you ought to listen to the lyrics. I didn't listen to any more direct lyrics by a young artists that are so direct and true for long times.
I masturbated to the songs you wrote
Resuscitated all of my hopes
It felt wrong but it didn’t take too long
Much appreciated are your songs.
Doesn’t mean I like you man
It just helps me get to sleep
And it’s cheaper than Temazepam.
from Lance Jr.
I got drunk and fell asleep atop the sheets but luckily i left the heater on.
And in my dreams i wrote the best song that i’ve ever written…can’t remember how it goes.
I stayed drunk and fell awake and i was cycling on a plane and far away i heard you say you liked me.
We drifted to a party – cool. The people went to arty school. They made their paints by mixing acid wash and lemonade
In my brain I re-arrange the letters on the page to spell your name
La Luz is a Seattle-based band that brought us back surf sound like Link Wray and The Ventures made famous on their first regular LP Weirdo Shrine. Added with ingredients by The Ronettes and The Chrystals. Nothing really new but I love this record and played it during the last summer. Brian told me that La Luz is big at his place and well known their live appearance. Just music that makes you a good mood and could be played almost any time. Sadly missed their concert in autumn. Therefore their music still makes fun.