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Music Albums & Singles

richarddawson0912.jpg SEPTEMBER 12 ALBUM & SINGLE REVIEWS
 

Album of the Month

Richard Dawson

The Magic Bridge (Box Records)

Newcastle based Richard Dawson has beguiled his way round live venues in the region for a few years now and this album (released last year but now out on vinyl) captures him and his battered acoustic guitar in all their unadorned glory.  Unadorned? The production makes Bon Iver’s ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ sound like Thriller, but if you’re prepared to get down and dirty then you’ll be rewarded with Dawson’s voice – a high-wire act without a safety net - teetering from the commanding to a strained, barely there whisper, which has the effect of simply pulling you in even closer. An acquired taste, but then again, so is the finest malt whisky. RM

Out now

The Souljazz Orchestra

Solidarity (Strut)

The latest album from the Canadian supergroup is an explosive blend of heavy afro rhythms replete with Fela-style blistering horns, red-hot Latin grooves and toasty reggae flavours. Reportedly recorded on a beat-up old eight track recorder, adding a grainy, lo-fi warmth that augments the band’s raw energy, ‘Solidarity’ is a powerful, politicised slab of pure funked-up tropical goodness. RS

Released September 24

Dusk + Blackdown

Dasaflex (Keysound)

Spacey explorations from two of the bassline/electronica scene’s premier producers. Blackdown brings jump up rockers like ‘Apoptosis’, ‘Wicked Vibes’ and ‘Hypergrime’, while Dusk’s more atmospheric offerings, ‘Next Generation’ and ‘Fraction’, bring an intricate percussive feel. Their collaborations combine these elements to produce some heavy duty dancefloor bombs that’ll also appeal to the headphones crew, as evinced in the superb title track. RS

Released September 17

Cyril

Cyril (Peoples Potential Unlimited)

Unheard boogietronic synth-soul from the label that specialises in the lost and forgotten gems of yesteryear. A quick internet search reveals that Cyril Walker was an English professional golfer and respected palaeontologist who died in either 1948 or 2009. He still managed, however, to record these – eight tracks of sick electrofunk-fuelled soul goodness that we really should know more about. Seek it, buy it, love it. (Though it doesn't mention any of this on Wikipedia…) RS

Out soon/TBC

Chilly Gonzales

Solo Piano II (Gentle Threat)

It was back in 2004 when Chilly Gonzales released his original piano album which saw him show just how versatile he was and now he’s back with Solo Piano II which features him alone at the piano and demonstrating why he’s the go-to keyboard guy for many of today’s top artists. He displays exquisite control on these original pieces with his feather-light fingers caressing the keys with dextrous aplomb. If there’s a wine bar in heaven then I expect they’ll have this on repeat play. GM

Released August 28

Infants

Giant Leg (Tigertrap)

Debut album from Infants – a band made up of members from Oslo, Tokyo and the UK – and it’s easy to see why the likes of Village Voice and Artrocker get all in a lather about them. They make itchy, no wave, demento-rock (with added crazy mirror style electronica) which, depending on whatever angle you come at it from, sounds either like Devo being shoved inside a Kenwood Chef with the Banana Splits, or, unlistenable. RM

Released August 27

Meiosis

Songs For 20 Something Year Olds (self release)

Meiosis is actually Newcastle based Martin Thompson, a talented so-and-so who certainly knows his way around a wonky tune with added Scott Walker style flavours. There are touches of Bowie too (from the tuneful playfulness of his Hunky Dory period to the avant-clatter of Low) and you’ve got to love a tune called called Roald Dahl which has the refrain: “We miss you… When I die, be dignified”.  HYPERLINK "http://www.musicbymeiosis.com" www.musicbymeiosis.com GM

Released September 3

Toy

Toy (Heavenly Recordings)

The debut album from this London band who were formed from the remnants of Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong. Well the name change is better and so is the music which now sounds like The Horrors. Spookily so. There are also plenty of nods to Neu! and all those other German outifts from the 70s that everyone is always blathering on about. Cut to the chase: if you like The Horrors then you’re going to like this. RM

Released September 10

Katatonia

Dead End Kings (Peaceville)

According to the press release for this album Katatonia are “Sweden’s ultimate purveyor of dark rock/metal”. Great, thought I, this is going to be the aural equivalent of someone sticking a Hoover up my jumper. But this is about as dark as a bottle of milk. THEY EVEN THINK THAT IT’S EXCEPTABLE TO HARMONISE! I guess every Swedish person’s natural gift for writing hooky pop tunes can’t be tamed, even by bands who implore you to “Stare into the darkness with us”. RM

Released September 3

The Egg

Something To Do (Squarepeg)

The Egg return with a kitchen sink sci-fi electro-dance monster that has tentacles in just about every dance-friendly genre going: pop, rock, psychedelia, house, electro – all somehow tied together into a coherent, chart-friendly noise. The title track, a collaboration with Ulrich Schnauss, sees them venture into shoegazing territory while still deftly manipulating the dancefloor g-spot. The album’s polished commercial sheen may turn off the underground purists, but The Egg are having too much fun to care. RS

Out now

Metronomy

Late Night Tales (Late Night Tales)

Next up for post-club compilation duties is electronic-pop-band-of-the-moment Metronomy who, perhaps unsurprisingly, reveal a love of skewed hip hop (Outkast, Sa-Ra, Dr. Octagon), sleazy soul (Lonzo & the World Class Wreckin Cru),  otherwordly Latin-jazz (Chick Corea), sparse electronica (Autechre, Two Lone Swordsmen) and psychedelic rock (The Alan Parsons Project, Tonto’s Expanding Head Band). Another winner from the LNT camp. RS

Released September 3

Sebastopol

Hello All Stations, This Is Zero (Warm Fuzz)

First album from this bunch and it’s got an old school, indie feel to it which made me think of Orange Juice and all of those other bands who managed to combine a winsome air with some beefy tunes in a rather pleasing manner. I detect more than a twist of Aztec Camera in the mix too (no bad thing) and if you like guitar-based tunes to sound best while played alone in your bedroom then you’re going to go for this. DP

Released September 3

Carlos Cipa

The Monarch and the Viceroy (Denovali)

Carlos Cipa is a 22-year-old composer/musician residing in Munich and, it’s fair to say, he knows how to play the piano. This, his debut album, features 12 of his own original compositions, just him and his piano, and it’s a real triumph. He sites Eric Satie as an influence (French composer – who died in 1925 – and credited with being one of the forefathers of minimalism), but this leans more towards the cinematic in scope, with his virtuosic playing adding layers of subtly. GM

Released September 3

Twisted Wheel

Do It Again (Twisted Wheel)

This bunch created a mini-stir a while back with support slots for Paul Weller and Oasis but their eponymous debut album never really saw them gain much ground. The follow up has some decent moments, in an Arctic Monkeys b-side kind of way, but mostly this is pretty anaemic indie-by-numbers stuff; The Libertines without the oomph. DP

Released September 17

Marry Waterson & Oliver Knight

Hidden (One Little Indian)

Marry Waterson is the daughter of folky legend Lal Waterson, but she moves neatly out of her slipstream with this full-bodied release in which she inhabits different characters in which to tell their stories. Her voice has a lovely Kirsty MacColl timbre to it and it’s neatly complimented by Oliver Knight’s playing. They’re both aided by guest stars including Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy and Reuben Taylor from The Athletes with the album taking pleasing detours through ska, music hall and ragtime. GM

Released September 24

Single of the Month

Field Music & Warm Digits

BBC Radio 3 Late Junction Session (Distraction Record)

The Late Junction Sessions are a BBC Radio 3 thing where they invite a couple of bands into their studio, who have never worked together before, for unique, one-off collaborations. In this case they’ve grabbed local luminaries Field Music and Warm Digits for four tracks that feature ladlefuls of motorik goodness, octatonic scales being gently stomped out of shape, swirly meanderings, and improvised synthy melodies and counter-melodies a-go-go. A heady brew (i.e. it’s for your head). RM

Released September 24

Admin

Eskimo/Whatever (Glasgow Underground)

The newly re-formed Glasgow Underground label just keeps on coming up with the goods: ‘Eskimo’ is pared down yet funky deepness, the Mia Dora remix adding a sprinkling of house music sparkle, and ‘Whatever You Want’ is a soulful deep house number given a tasty electro-disco re-rub on the This Is I remix. Lovely. RS

Out now

The Trash Company

The Trash Company (Peoples Potential Unlimited)

A five-track collection of music from Max E. Monroe, unknown musician/producer unearthed by the label of the decade, PPU. Best described as ‘concrete soul’, Monroe’s music is remarkable for its  lo-fi breakbeaty textures, detached otherworldliness and the fact that, since the 70s, it has prefigured many of underground music’s recent ‘innovations’. Genius doesn't quite fit the bill. RS

out soon/TBC

Tusk

Boy Bruce, The Mighty Atom (self release)

Super new double A-side from this local band who shine with immense promise. ‘Boy Bruce, The Mighty Atom’ is a mangled pop/Radiohead-style diamond of a tune, while ‘Subtle Fun’ is ringing with math rock goodness. Very promising.  HYPERLINK "http://www.wearetusk.co.uk" www.wearetusk.co.uk DP

Released August 27

St James Infirmary

Eight For A Fiver (Dibble Records)

Ashington based St James Infirmary are the local indie semi-legends who have been through more band members than The Fall. And chief ringmaster G.W. Lang is showing no signs of being jaded on this release which is a nicely frothy combination of The Ramones, Half Man Half Biscuit and Lawrence (of Denim and Go Kart Mozart fame). Great! DP

Out now

Various

Shir Khan Presents Black Jukebox 05 (Exploited)

The Berlin label has been hitting its stride again lately. Here, Andre Crom, Darabi, James Silk and Patryk Molinari sample, cut up, reinterpret and re-present some classic and underground disco hooks to produce an EP that’s burning with dancefloor fever. RS

Out now

ARP 101 x Elliott Yorke

Fluro Black (Donky pitch)

This lot take dubstep into hip-hop soul territory with opener ‘SLAM’, which sounds like a stripped down Sa-Ra Creative Partners and none the worse for it, while ‘Fluro Black’ provides a nice line in militaristic bassline and ‘Polybot’ goes all psychedelic android on us. RS

Out now

Divide & Reign

Come The Rain (self release)

This north-east three-piece know the importance of some nicely judged riffage, but this is a bit meat and potatoes. I’d like the Bon Jovi feel to be replaced with something with a bit more bite. Advice to band: Give Thin Lizzy a listen and let them inject you with some ‘Grrr…’ DP

Out now

Kramnik

Dark Matters Remix EP vol 1(Kram Records)

Kramnik? He’s THE name to drop if you want to impress people with your knowledge of up and coming Spanish DJs and producers. And this is corking with the Hernan Cattaneo & Martin Garcia remix of ‘Viclone’ in particular being a techy proggy classic; a dark cave of a tune in which to get nicely lost and wound up in. I’m still there. RM

Released September 20

Dennis

Colliery Welfare EP (Sapien Records)

Dennis are an eight-piece, rootsy, folk rock (and brass) band from Hetton-Le-Hole and on this frothy release they combine the perkiness of The Housemartins with the passion of Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Four tracks and not a second wasted. Grand stuff. GM

Released October 8

Kobadelta

Our Simple Pleasure (self release)

Great stuff here from this Newcastle four-piece with a rumbly slice of indie-pysch-rock which, in its grab-you-by-the-lapels intensity, sounds like The Doors minus the overblown keyboards. DP

Out now

The Heartbreaks

Polly (Nusic Sounds)

In a tune which has been force fed so many e-numbers it makes McFly sound like Sunn O))), The Heartbreaks make a play for swing-yer-pants indie. It has all the qualities of a piece of candyfloss (minus the stick) and is about as filling. RM

Released September 3