Peaking Lights Present: Lucifer FM

new mixtape up on Lucifer.FM from @PeakingLights - it's a taster for their follow up to last year's 936 (decent stuff, came late to this party for some reason). full album out in June on Domino. pre-order the Special deluxe bundle and you get: album on coloured vinyl (complete with download codes), a stroboscopic vinyl slipmat, exclusive Lucifer woven patch and a limited edition Lucifer T shirt. 


28th Mar 2012 - Add Comment - Tweet

Promo Promo: Real Estate - It's Real

canine-friendly scenes from Domino's jangle revivalists Real Estate from new album Days


8th Nov 2011 - Add Comment - Tweet

MPFree: Malkmus v Beck

Beck's behind the decks for the new Malkmus outing: download Senator now from Domino


10th Jun 2011 - Add Comment - Tweet

Mixable Greatest Hits from Pavement

Domino and Matador have a great competition up to guess the tracklisting for Pavement's upcoming Greatest Hits compilation Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement.

The competition is to guess the track-listing of the album, starting with mpfree (get it here) Gold Soundz. First prize is a pair of tickets to see the band at the Chimpovich-endorsed Summercase festival in Barcelona. The real best prize is for second place, however - with the second best guess of track-listing winning 5 custom pressed editions of the album, made up from re-mastered version of their choice cuts.

Although the compilation does not include any unreleased material, it definitely goes deeper than the "hits."

More at Matador.


8th Jan 2010 - Add Comment - Tweet

The Big Pink

A Brief History of Love

Big Pink eh? Classics like ‘The Weight’ and ‘This Wheel’s on Fire’ comprised an impressive first album by The Band and in retrospect, while the songs are more divergent than their eponymous...

Hang on, where am I? This isn’t Mojo magazine. Any comparisons to Robbie Robertson’s folk-rock outfit can stop there. We’re talking Neo-Shoegaze baby, we’re talking Shoetronica, we’re talking 'bout Nu Gaze. Sonic cathedrals of noise are all the rage again right now… though when I tried playing my M83 album in the whispering gallery at St Paul’s, I was rudely ejected.

The hype machine for 4AD’s new signing is starting to crank up like a string of Kevin Shield’s effects pedals and if you listen to the radio you’ve probably already heard The Big Pink's single ‘Dominos’ – a catchy FM friendly stomp that equates girls who have inner-ear balance issues to pizzas or South London-based Indie labels.

‘A Brief History of Love’ is a big sounding album. Vast swathes of sound echo wash over you, all fizzing noise and blankets of warm guitar under sweeping skies of analogue static, with a backbone of drums and epic machine-made beats. It makes for a good headphone listen, although I imagine they’ve got other spaces in mind, like playing to the sunset crowd on the Other Stage at Glastonbury – you can pretty much see the light show in your head during the more climactic moments.

More than a few times it brought to mind School of Seven Bells’ album ‘Alpinisms’, which has a similar intricate yet expansive production. Ultimately though, that became my problem with this record, in that ‘A Brief History of Love’ kept coming out unfavourably in comparison. School of Seven Bells minus all the clever sounds would still make for a very weird and interesting listen, with their crystalline harmonies and strange poem-like lyrics. If you strip out The Big Pink’s shimmering soundscapes, what’s left?

Underneath what’s fair to say is an immaculately produced record, I kept on finding The Verve (on the slow, moody ones) or Kasabian (on the meaty, beaty ones). Lyrically, the word ‘baby’ seems to come up quite a lot. But what do I know? I don’t imagine School of Seven Bells sell that many records, while Kasabian definitely do. The Big Pink will probably become immensely successful and next year, as I’m flicking channels and come across their sunset Glasto slot on the BBC iPlayer, I’ll be able to say “I told you so”.


10th Sep 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Two Sunsets


In something of a dream team match up, Two Sunsets sees Japanese psych-folk popsters Tenniscoats team up with... Scottish psych-folk popsters Pastels - for an album of psych folk pop.

Joking aside, this is a beautiful record, meeting all expectations for a long-on-hiatus revered band like the Pastels, recently more consumed by the running of their Domino funded label Geographic.

Two Sunsets is dreamy, shoe-gazing pop that is an effortless listen, ebbing and flowing and creating a world and language of its own, although that language is not dissimilar to the work of those other occasional-Japanese-avant-garde-collaborators Damon & Naomi.

The the aptly-titled opening track, Tokyo Glasgow starts things off, while Two Sunsets is a highlight, as is the intriguingly titled closer Start Slowly We Sound Like A Loch - gently layering keyboards and sounds to build up a lush soundscape. Beautiful.


4th Sep 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Arctic Monkeys



While the Arctic Monkey's second album Favourite Worst Nightmare was seen as something of a departure from the more chart friendly sound of tracks like I Bet You Look Good..., that departure is now seeming like more of a correction to where the band wanted to be heading. You may be expecting another departure here, after having read notes on how the band headed out to the desert to record this with Josh Homme, but stylistically it is a very logical continuation.

With the exception of the forever tracksuit-toting drummer, the band seems to have gone though a group mentality change on their new haircuts, graduating from teenage rockers to proper long-hairs, reflecting the most obviously development of the sound, as the band embrace darker, more American rock influences - notable in the angry squeals of Fire and The Thud, or the epic-sounding drawl of Dance Little Liar.

505, which proved a huge hit as the closer at this year's Reading festival, hinted at a new direction at the end of Favourite Worst Nightmare, but that hint is not really built upon here. The name calling narrative of Cornerstone probably comes closest, with Alex Turner's flowing vocals unfolding the narrative, proving Turner is without a doubt the star of the band. He is developing into a true icon, with a confidence on stage and song-writing ability that rivals Noel Gallagher, minus the attitude problem.

Darker than Whatever People Say I Am..., but with perhaps less of the abrasiveness of Favourite Worst Nightmare, Humbug is lacking the instant catchy hits of both - but none the less is a solid, consistent album that will surely reveal its true hand after many more listens.


2nd Sep 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Promo Promo: The Big Pink

Currently getting very highly tipped, check out the promo for The Big Pink's single Dominos.

Another nice old-school promo from Timothy Saccenti, who did that Chairlift one.


17th Aug 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

Arctic Monkeys at Oxfam

In one of the more original and thoughtful promotional tie-ins for a while, the Arctic Monkeys will be selling their new single Crying Lightning through Oxfam's network of 700 shops.

The ‘Crying Lightning’ 7” will cost £2.99, and each single will come with a download code allowing fans to get an MP3 version of the songs for free.

More than 600 Oxfam shops across the country sell second-hand music – double the total number of independent record shops in the UK*. The charity sells around £6 million of music every year, enough to fund its entire programme in Indonesia for a year, buy 187,000 emergency shelters, or provide safe water for 8 million people.

Domino and Arctic Monkeys are also calling on music fans to bring in any unwanted albums or singles to their local Oxfam shop when they pick up their copy of the single, to help Oxfam keep turning yesterday’s hits into vital funds for years to come.

More info:


4th Aug 2009 - 1 comments - Add Comment - Tweet

New Lou

Lou Barlow has a new solo record - Goodbye Unknown - out in October, and will be supporting Dinosaur Jr on their forthcoming tour - backed up by Mike Watt's 'Missingmen', minus the Minuteman himself. Sign up at Domino (or below) to hear the track Gravitate.



21st Jul 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

Return to Spiral Stairs

Pavement cohort Scott Kannberg is re-booting his Spiral Stairs persona - and releasing a 'debut' album in October on Matador and Domino. Much like Batmans 3 and 4, he's decided to overlook the overlooked Preston School of Industry releases.


6th Jul 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet


Generic/Gone Fishin'/Public Flipper Ltd./Sex Bomb Baby


Re-re-re-release time for the four Flipper albums. Boy, these rekkids have a long history of being issued with some legal wrangling and format wars all rolled in for good measure. Apparantley a big influence on Nirvana, Henry Rollins and plenty of sludge-rock bands, Flipper are pretty much the also-rans of the American punk scene. Too slow and experimental for many, too noisy and uncompromising for others, it's easy to see why they never achieved the star status of those who followed. Here then, are their four official releases (with the exception of their new album) for those who missed them first time, second time, or third time round.

Generic Flipper
Flipper's first album kicks off with "Ever", which lays down their manifesto from the word go - guitar out of tune with the bass (and itself) in a gigantic wash of fuzz and reverb, but jollied along by go-go hand-claps. Perhaps this is Flipper's charm - even on the two studio albums they sound like they're having a crack at playing all the tunes for the first time, without the benefit of rehearsal. Naturally there are some moments when the originality of the vocals or the catchiness of the riffs break through the noise for a decent glimpse of what the fuss was all about, and on Generic the best track is the infamous "smoke on the water of punk" Sex-Bomb. Actually, Sex-Bomb is more of a punk "Low Rider" with it's infectious bass groove. Confusingly, Flipper also released a track called Lowrider which makes no reference to War's track...anyway...

Gone Fishin'
The second album is more sonically diverse, employing Sax, Vibes and Piano in places whilst continuing with the tradition of playing very loose. It's pretty heavy in places - less punk and more sludge - sort of like a prototype version of The Cows, and there are further flashes of what the band might have become if various members didn't keep dying of drug overdoses. Standout tracks are In Life My Friends, and Talk's Cheap.

Public Flipper Ltd
This is a collection of live tracks recorded by Flipper during their glory years (81 - 83). If you've enjoyed the sound of Flipper's first two albums you might wish to persevere with this one, since by now you'll be well used to the idea of the guitar being out of tune, and rather randomly played. Opening track New Rules No Rules is just about the most punk-rock thing you'll ever hear in your life - where Flipper's sound suddenly makes sense. Sadly though, the low-fi recordings do not convey the band's legendary HEAVY live sound, but at least there's quite a lot of material here that was not on the two studio albums - singles releases mainly - which leads us to...

Sex Bomb Baby
A collection of Flipper's singles and all remaining releasable tracks. The original 7" version of Sex-Bomb is great, complete with Riot noises over the end. The singles have the same kind of sound as the album tracks but they attempt to get the point across a little quicker, which sometimes helps. The track I really like here is Brainwash - truly original and nicely executed.


You can't deny the influence Flipper have had on some great bands, but you can also hear why they were destined to be infamous rather than famous - they were dedicated to the way they sounded, but that very sound obscured the catchy elements of their tracks. I'm sure a good producer could have changed all that, but I don't think Flipper wanted to sound any other way. For once, I'd really like to hear an album full of Flipper cover versions done by contemporary bands who could wrestle the great bits out of the Flipper catalogue...and maybe even tune the guitars.


22nd Jun 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

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King Creosote

Flick The V's


Somewhere between the 2005 Homefires gig and James Yorkston's Year of The Leopard the light that burned in me for the Fence Collective started to dwindle and soon ran out all together. Kenny Anderson AKA King Creosote was evolving into the jewel in the Fence crown with his stunning Rocket D.I.Y. album and to a lesser extent KC Rules OK, but with his 4th release ... I started to lose interest. It was all slightly too sugar sweet and the use of accordion, which was his USP for a long time started to drag. Thankfully, with this latest album, things are starting to illuminate again.

Much of this return to form can be placed at the door of the opening track No One Had It Better. With this Anderson emerges as a more mature artist who is embracing a more varied sonic pallet. The most obvious change is the use of technology. Layers of sampled vocals swim around this opening song and there's a real sense of patience as Anderson takes his time to introduce himself on this record. When he does is very exciting. With brisk drums joining this rising electronic background he comes in strong and with a pace that is sometimes lacking from previous songs. It's the longest song he's made and it really announces this new record with a fresh confidence but still manages to retain Anderson's weary innocence.

This song goes unrivaled on the rest of the record but that's not to dampen any of the other songs. The musical compositions are way more mature in their construction and ambition. His writing has always been of a charming and understated intelligence and I think the reason this record works better than past efforts is that the music elevates this writing to a status far greater than before and the contrast between this bigger sound and Anderson's humble insights makes this work. Rocket D.I.Y. dazzled with its realism and playful wit but with this new release both these qualities are joined by more contemporary company and the partnership makes for a lovely album that blows like a spring breeze, with a slight chill but heralding warmth to come.


12th May 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Gone Fishing

No, not the classic puke-coloured vinyl release from Flipper (soon to be re-released on Domino), but a new mix tape from HHG favourites (review) The Cool Kids. It's up, for free, at their Myspace.


7th May 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

Promo Promo: King Creosote / Pssap

Former Chimpomatic favourite King Creosote is back with a new album - Flick The Vs - out on Domino on April 20th. Check out the video to first single Coast On By.

And here's a creepy promo for Pssap's new single I Want That - out March 30th, also on Domino.


27th Mar 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

To Arms Etc

Corner Games


Taking inspiration from Serge Gainsbourg's 1979 reggae album (don't ask) Aux Armes Et Caetera, To Arms Etc are fronted by Australian multi-instrumentalist Charles Campbell-Jones. Recorded over a prolonged period with a rotating array of guests and band members, Corner Games has a surprisingly cohesive sound.

A mish-mash of styles work well to support the consistent themes and atmosphere running through the album, as piano and xylophone run alongside luscious harmonies, giving the album a sound almost like an indie Coldplay, or a minimalised Flaming Lips. The combination of retro sounds and modern references (Little Domino) often seems insincere and smirking, hinting at deeper meaning beneath the surface.

The prominent piano work is the strength and weakness of the album's sound. When it's working well, it provides a foil for the abrupt lyrics - threatening to rock out at any moment (Super-Radiance) - but with lyrics this narrative in sound, the piano can also push the album into a feeling of theatre, or even the dreaded musical (Isinbayeve).

Ultimately it's the latter that wins out, and while there's plenty of pleasant enough listening here, there's little that really digs in for the long haul.



18th Mar 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Bonnie 'Prince' Billy



The dark brooding ‘Tonight’s The Night’-like cover points to a return to the bleak and sombre days of ‘I See A Darkness’ for ‘Beware’, Will Oldham’s latest album under his Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy moniker. However this is misleading, as this is Oldham at his most mature and confident, the fragility of his Palace days seem a long time gone. The sounds here is full and accomplished, complimented on occasions with forceful backing vocals, fiddles, slide guitar and trumpets.

As ever, Oldham’s gloomy yet playful side prevails, turning seemingly conventional compositions into more interesting beasts altogether. The rousing opener ‘Beware Your Only Friend’ sees his ‘soul sucking thoughts’ go from ‘you want to be my daughter’ to ‘I wanted you to be my Mother’.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy albums are awkward buggers, as at first they can be quite underwhelming, but this is often misleading. Although his style changes, it often does so subtly and on initial listens you get pretty much what you expect. However, after some time they have a habit of slowly and surely getting under your skin.

‘I Don’t Belong To Anyone’ is up there with his greatest songs and best of all is the single ‘I Am Goodbye’ which is foot-stompingly upbeat for Oldham and catchy as hell to boot. So another very good Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy album but as ever, it might take a few plays to see if it’s a great one.


16th Mar 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

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King Freosote

King Creosote has a new album on the way - Flick The VS -  and a new label in Domino Records. He's giving a way an mp3 from the album over at the Domino website.


13th Feb 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

Franz Ferdinand

Tonight: Franz Ferdinand


Franz Ferdinand first surfaced on Domino's excellent Worlds of Possibility compilation in 2003, which celebrated the indie label's 10th anniversary. Their contribution (a demo of Darts of Pleasure) made a decent enough impression while sitting amongst the likes of Pavement, Sebadoh and Bonnie Prince Billy - but few would have bet money on the band becoming one of the crown jewels in the label's roster, giving them their first number on act in 2005.

Returning here with their third album, Franz Ferdinand claim to have taken a 'new direction', but it's unlikely to take anyone long to adjust to the new sound. Stop/start power disco is the order of the day, with very, very catchy, sing-a-long lyrics - smoothly running through the band's art school, psuedo-sexy style, like a Roxy Music for the 00's.

Lead single Ulysses is straightforward enough, making good use of loud/quiet, high impact production - like a disco Gang of Four. Things pick up with Send Him Away, which sees the style of the record develop a little - as the pop chorus/verse structure gives way to a nice guitar breakdown and leads into an impressive run of tracks, encompassing the heavy electronics of Twilight Omens and the pounding drums of Bite Hard.

The lawless guitar freak-out at the end of What She Came For shows a more rocking sensibility to the band, while the Kraftwerk beeps of Live Alone make it a perfect candidate for the next single, soaked in luscious 80's-style production. Things tale off a little with the video-game friendly Lucid Dreams - which drags it's feet from the beginning, running on for nearly 8 minutes - but it's one of only a few disappointing moments on the record.

Without knowing all the financial details, it seems like a fair bet that the success of Franz Ferdinand and the Arctic Monkeys has contributed a big chunk to the success of Domino over the last few years. The label was quick to see the potential in this relatively unconventional band and polish them into a thinking man's pop act - and if this is how the label pay their bills and finance their booming investment in new music, then who's complaining?


26th Jan 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Star Status: Mickey Rourke

He's riding a wave of Oscar-ready comeback predictions for The Wrestler, but how does Mickey Rourke score in the return of the Chimpomatic Star Status Movie Maths Generator?

It's been a while since we had a go at this, so in case you've forgotten, here are the rules again: it's 10 points for a Hit, 5 for a Maybe and 1 for a Miss... No TV movies, just cinema releases to date. We add it all up, cross-reference the results with some complicated science bits, and hey presto! A comprehensive hit-rate analysis showing how much of their catalogue is actually worth watching. 

The Wrestler (2008) .... Randy 'The Ram' Robinson HIT
Stormbreaker (2006) .... Darrius Sayle MAYBE
Domino (2005) .... Ed Mosbey MISS
Sin City (2005) .... Marv HIT
Man on Fire (2004) .... Jordan MISS
Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) .... Billy MISS
Masked and Anonymous (2003) .... Edmund MAYBE
Spun (2002) .... The Cook HIT
Picture Claire (2001) .... Eddie MISS
They Crawl (2001) .... Tiny Frakes MISS
The Pledge (2001) .... Jim Olstad HIT
Get Carter (2000) .... Cyrus Paice MISS
Animal Factory (2000) .... Jan the Actress HIT
Shades (1999) .... Paul S. Sullivan MISS
Out in Fifty (1999) .... Jack Bracken MISS
Shergar (1999) .... Gavin O'Rourke MISS
Cousin Joey (1999) MISS
Thursday (1998) .... Kasarov MISS
Point Blank (1998) .... Rudy Ray MISS
Buffalo '66 (1998) .... The Bookie HIT
The Rainmaker (1997) .... Bruiser Stone HIT 
Love in Paris (1997) .... John Gray ... aka 9 1/2 Weeks II MISS 
Double Team (1997) .... Stavros MISS
Bullet (1996) .... Butch 'Bullet' Stein MISS
Exit in Red (1996) .... Ed Altman MISS
Fall Time (1995) .... Florence MISS
F.T.W. (1994) .... Frank T. Wells MISS
White Sands (1992) .... Gorman Lennox MISS
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991) .... Harley Davidson MAYBE
Desperate Hours (1990) .... Michael Bosworth MAYBE
Wild Orchid (1989) .... James Wheeler MISS
Johnny Handsome (1989) .... John Sedley a.ka. Johnny Handsome / Johnny Mitchell MISS
Francesco (1989) .... Francesco MISS
Homeboy (1988) .... Johnny Walker MISS
A Prayer for the Dying (1987) .... Martin Fallon HIT
Barfly (1987) .... Henry Chinaski HIT
Angel Heart (1987) .... Harry Angel HIT
Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) .... John HIT
Year of the Dragon (1985) .... Capt. Stanley White HIT
The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984) .... Charlie HIT
Eureka (1984) .... Aurelio D'Amato HIT
Rumble Fish (1983) .... The Motorcycle Boy HIT
Diner (1982) .... Robert 'Boogie' Sheftell HIT
Body Heat (1981) .... Teddy Lewis HIT
Heaven's Gate (1980) .... Nick Ray MAYBE
Fade to Black (1980) .... Richie MAYBE
1941 (1979) .... Pvt. Reese MAYBE

HIT 17

So that's 212 points out of a possible 470

Mickey Rourke: you have scored 45.1%

If you dare make a purchase, you can do so here, allowing Chimpomatic to profit from his loss. Check back next Thursday for more Star Status movie maths. Same Chimp Channel, same Chimp Time...


Consume some of Mickey Rourke's best 45.1% here!
Hey Mickey



15th Jan 2009 - 3 comments - Add Comment - Tweet

Animal Collective

Merriweather Post Pavilion


So here it is, Animal Collective's much anticipated ninth studio album: Merriweather Post Pavilion (apparently named after their favourite venue) arrives with similar claims that greeted their previous few releases; namely that these would be proper songs, rather than the sprawling sketches that characterised their earlier work. The fact that none of the songs clock in at over six minutes, does seems to suggest a new more disciplined agenda.

Opener In the Flowers doesn't quite fit this claim; with its plodding build, it feels rather like a prelude and is slightly underwhelming. However, moving into the blissful My Girls, it all begins to make perfect sense, with Panda Bear's melodic stamp all over it and is utterly delightful. Then the stomping, playful My GIrls take things in a positively sing-a-long direction by Animal Collective's standards.

From there on in, it is apparent that the sound on Merriweather Post Pavilion has evolved markedly since Strawberry Jam, and on the whole it's a lot more accessible record. This time around their reliance on samples and loops seems to have focused them, such on the stripped back Daily Routine (Guitarist Deakin is absent from this record). Yet Animal Collective's real skill is their ability to extract melody from the strangest of places and as the album goes on it slowly seeps deep inside your head.

So whilst Animal Collective remain an acquired taste and are not ever likely ever to make something that isn't hard to categorise, Merriweather Post Pavilion is as an original, joyous and warm album that you're likely to find this year.


14th Jan 2009 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedance Edition


The Pavement re-release juggernaut continues at full-steam (wait, didn't the last review start like that?), with album number four now getting the super-deluxe treatment. Perhaps more than the previous efforts, Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition is truly jam-packed with goodies, stretching it out to an epic 155 minutes.

In the overall canon of Pavement's work, support for Brighten the Corners may be a little divided. The album sold considerably more that it's predecessors - and features a couple of bonifide hit singles in Stereo and Shady Lane - but much of the scattergun rambling charm of the earlier albums had perhaps been polished away. In retrospect, the album shows a logical progression in the band's sound, and pre-dates the evolution of Malkmus's excellent solo albums - and can hardly be labelled as 'conventional'.

Sure, the chorus of Stereo is catchy and conventional, but it's surrounded by unhinged guitar work and primal vocals - not to mention the spoken word interruptions ("I know him, and he does" retorts Bob Nastovich in his best Wayne's World voice, "And you're my fact checking cuz".). Shady Lane crams a 20 minute epic into less than 4, while the show-stopping Embassy Row commits an orchestrated guitar riot to tape.

Conventional, perhaps not - but if you take Spiral Stairs' slightly out of place efforts out of the mix (Date W/ IKEA, Passat Dream), the original album is at least pretty cohesive for a Pavement album. Bring the collected b-sides into play however and it's a different story, transforming this into a sprawling, but thoroughly engaging trip.

Outtake/B-side The Hexx has already been featured on Domino's Worlds of Possibility compilation (albeit in a more concise form than the versions here), while Beautiful As A Butterfly and Cataracts lead into the raft of additional tracks that formed the b-sides of the singles from this period. The highlight of the rarities section of this release has to be the Radio 1 Evening Session, which provides studio quality recordings of the band running through The Hexx, Harness Your Hopes and Winner Of The, with the undisputed highlight being the band's cover of The Killing Moon - a track that provides perfect ammo for a stretched-out work-out.

Admittedly things taper away with some of the other live tracks from the era, but as the zany double barreled finale of Space Ghost Themes I & II come around (from the Space Ghost Coast To Coast TV show), the notion that Pavement had entered a more 'straight-forward' mainstream period is a distant theory.

While the Crooked Rain and Wowee Zowee re-releases arguably watered down their excellent starting points, Brighten The Corners here seems even better that the original - perhaps due to me approaching an album I perhaps was overly dismissive of from a fresh perspective. Either way, as these re-releases have shown, this was an incredibly productive band - kicking out 2 1/2 hours worth of decent material per album cycle, while the young pups these days struggle to produce a 12 track album and a couple of b-sides.


2nd Dec 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid



For their fourth collaborative album in 3 years, Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid turn to Reid's home town for inspiration. Recorded at the famous Manhattan studio Avatar, that has seen artists such as Miles Davis, Steve Reich and The Roots pass through its hallowed doorway, this album draws from the sounds and feel of New York City. With past recordings being challenging to the extreme, NYC seems to incorporate all the ground that these two artists have covered in the past and has managed to bring it all into line for what must be their best and most certainly their most accessible album to date.

All six songs rely on the contrast of simplicity and complexity with each structure being drastically stripped down compositions that employ an incredibly limited musical pallet. Having said that, each song glistens with intricate complexities that are packed into their formless shell with seeming abandon. Hebden is credited with providing simply "electronics" which heavily understates his contribution. Each track is laced with his trademark texture consisting of swirling atmospherics, mumbling white noise and clipped electric guitar. But of course at the centre of all this is Reid's drumming. Like a flock of swallows flying in unison, Reid's drumming holds all the elements together as it darts from one place to the next. It is the basis of each composition and yet drifts along with utter freedom. It can provide backing texture to Hebden's twiddling and samples or it can rise to centre stage with awesome strength and confidence.

The most challenging moment is chosen to lead the album, with Lyman Place kicking things off with an incredibly tense seven minute opener. It's like being in a lift in the tallest building in the world and watching the floor-count rise higher and higher with ever increasing speeds. If you can get past this, the record really starts with 1st & 1st. Like the credit crunch has bitten into the supply of musical notes, this song is built around a 4 or 5 note funk hook that is repeated in all its forms as Reid's drums take on almost tribal rhythm. 25th Street really captures the chaos of Manhattan's streets as frantic drumming churns inside out along with a multitude of fractured samples, including what sounds like the last sips of a McDonalds coke through a straw. Hebden's triumphant EP released earlier this year is brought to mind as this chaos effortlessly slips into a regular 4/4 beat towards the end, but he miraculously manages to restrain himself form this form and structure and lets the beat see out the rest of the song but continue no further. Arrival and Between B&C adopt a more abstract approach and choose a blanket-type structure that covers the whole song in feather-light cymbals and astral synths. But, when mid-way through Between B&C the drum roll ceases and a deep piano melody drops in, the result is electrifying.

Departure closes the album with a ground-mat of delicate, looping glockenspiel that recalls Hebden's early work as Four Tet. It's a beautiful way to finish and it simply gleams with jewell-like clarity and sensitivity. Reid really embeds his drumming deep into the distance and it's from this all encompassing bed of rhythm that Hebden's restrained percussion sparkles. It's a gentle way to close this accomplished recording and really completes the journey through this city, a journey that has been terrifying, mesmerising, hypnotic, exciting and ultimately blissful. Avatar's musical ghosts haunt every beat of this record as it brings into harmony the free-form creativity of MIles Davis, the avant-guard flare of Steve Reich and the The Roots' sense of rhythm. It oozes tradition and yet is acutely contemporary and is the glorious sum of many years of ceaseless creative pursuit by both artists and something not to be missed.


6th Nov 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Arctic Monkeys

At The Apollo

Domino / Warp Films

With a couple of hit albums under their belts and the band already distracted by side projects, the obligatory live video seems to be one way of maintaining the Arctic Monkeys status - documenting their monster Worst Nightmare tour, which culminated with this show at the Manchester Apollo in December 2007.

Left-field production company Warp Film may be behind the production, but filming wise it's a pretty straightforward affair, with a couple of camera on tracks, a few roaming grainy numbers and pretty much just the stage lighting. A decent effort has gone into the post-production, with a Burt Bacharach/Thomas Crown style intro and outro, and the occasional burst of split screen.

It's a fairly faultless performance from the Monkeys, featuring a pretty conventional set-list waith all the highlights in all the expected places (Teddy Picker, When The Sun Goes Down, 505). There's little banter from the band, pretty much whittling the whole production down to little more than a slightly cooler that normal edition of a T4 concert special. For fans of the band this may be essential viewing, but for any body else it servers as little more than a decent document of what this band were up to, at this particular point in time.


5th Nov 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Bonnie 'Prince' Billy With Harem Scarem and Alex Neilson

Is It The Sea?


‘They’re really great live…’ people often insist, when I appear unconvinced by their particular musical offering. It is true that a live recording often reveals the real character of a band; there is an immediacy which can lift the music above an album template. There is always the risk, though, that a live performance can expose the over-produced limitations of a band’s music.
No one could ever accuse Bonnie Prince Billy of being ‘over produced’ and Is It The Sea? confirms his natural habitat as the stage rather than the studio. This is a brilliant record which bears witness to one night on BPB’s 2006 tour of Scotland and Ireland. He is joined by Edinburgh’s Harem Scarem on close harmonies, fiddle, flute, banjo and accordion and Glasgow’s Alex Nielson on drums and percussion. Much of the vitality of this recording comes from the contribution which these collaborators have to make. The highland lilt of their fiddle, accordion and flute accompaniments give BPB’s primal tales of love and loss, a real sense of depth. Their harmonies are always pure and direct; there is no great elaboration, only a mainlining of the musical heritage that BPB's revised American folk stems from.

Particular high points include Birch Ballad, a mesmeric Is It The Sea and an increasingly demented version of Cursed Sleep. In the act of performance many of the songs have been turned and twisted from immediately recognizable favourites.

Billie’s music has always carried a kind of medieval foreboding which is dramatically amplified here. In the case of Molly Bawn, the song’s minor key and archaic language are given an extra twist of Celtic wailing. The result is that the balladic tradition from which this song springs, appears alive and well in the hands of Bonnie Prince Billie.

There is a real authenticity to these recordings and a genuine fervour in the audience’s response. We are as far removed from the boot-tapping folksiness of American country as is possible. Instead the backdrop to these performances is that of a European heritage, an aural culture where tales were passed from generation to generation by firelight. Bonnie Prince Billie has appeared to us in many different guises but on Is it the Sea? he is at his most convincing as a kind of musical emigrant brought back to his roots.


19th Oct 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Various Artists

Dreams Come True: Classic First Wave Electro


Dreams Come True: Classic First Wave Electro 1982-1987 is a compilation by writer Jon Savage, released through Domino - and right away you get the sense that this is a very personal collection for Savage. Billed as a compilation of early electro it bears only a few of the hallmarks that modern (?) electro carries. Essentially, this is the more populist sound of electro which became refined over the following years with the biggest hits yet to come, so what you have here then is early 80's electronic soul music - not particularly intending to be electro, just turning out that way. The sound of the Linn Drum is in evidence throughout, and many keyboard parts are played rather than using sequencers. There are also quite a few guitar parts floating about, even on Klein & MBO's Dirty Talk - the most truly electro item in the collection.

These tracks represent a lot of what was to come - you can be sure that Green Gartside of Scritti Politti was listening to this sound as he was writing Cupid and Psyche 85, and once the likes of Arif Mardin had embraced it for Chaka Khan's '85 comeback, this was a sound firmly in the mainstream. You can't keep a good song down tho' - and the standout track here is Larry Levan's mix of Class Action's Weekend, which would sound right at home on the next Grand Theft Auto soundtrack.

Mostly a moment in time for Jon Savage and a little inconsistent, but an interesting and enjoyable collection nonetheless.


15th Oct 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Soup Of The Day

Domino's Max Tundra is adding some value to his latest soup recipe (Kosher Chicken), by giving away two free albums with it. One is his new studio album Parallax Error Beheads You and the second is a bonus disc of covers called Best Friends (a "reinterpretation" of Some Best Friend You Turned Out To Be by some of Max Tundra's friends).

Buy the soup and you get download codes for the music from Domino's download store.


29th Sep 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

Juana Molina

Un Dia


Juana Molina's fifth album opens with the line, "Undia voy a cantar las canciones sin letra y cada uno podra imaginar si hablo de amor, de desilusion, banalidades o sobre platon." And for those of you who don't know, this translates as, "One day I will sing the songs with no lyrics and everyone can imagine for themselves if it's about love, disappointment, banalities or about Plato." You don't have to dig too deep into this record or even speak her language to understand that she is well on the way to this goal. Un Dia is clearly the result of some pretty ruthless examination of her past work as here, Molina pulls out certain elements that previously lay hidden and fades other's expertly into the background. The two factors to which I refer are the emergence of rhythm and the receding of the vocals. The rhythm and pulse of this music is key and as each groove and beat writhe over and inside eachother, Molina's minimal and whispered, repeated vocals become just another tool for this truly mesmeric and seductive sound. Un Dia is as uncompromising and mesmeric as some of the finest work by Japanese experimental artist Susumu Yokota and not since Joanna Newsom's Ys have I heard such a fiercely original record.

Describing the rhythm in her previous work as being "like a hidden layer in Photoshop," the aim with Un Dia was to bring to the forefront something that had previously been obvious to her but not to others. This rhythm, being played out on wood, cymbal, gentle acoustic guitar and bombo leguero and woven from delicate electronic glitches produces trance-like compositions that slowly gather momentum, taking on more instruments with every revolution until they swirl around your head in a magical frenzy. Molina's voice is heavily sampled and looped creating a complex mesh of repetition that is at the heart of this trance. It's incredibly seductive music but not in a Siren sort of way. The seduction occurs by the sheer weight of sound that rises up before you and the unrelenting endurance of it. Most of these songs surpass the seven minute mark and all build on an initial rhythm and maintain this to the end, gathering a throng of support along the way. And yet it all plays out with the lightest of touches.

With opener and title track Un Dia, Molina's voice is so distant as are the numerous instruments that, as the song progresses, it feels like you are being slowly surrounded by sound. The expert production allows each sound to, in turn, loom out of this impenetrable ring and approach your ear. Some of these compositions are quite unrelenting and refuse to give the listener what they want. This works out to be the ultimate success but the songs that build to what can very loosely be described as a pay-off are simply dazzling. Vive Solo begins with quiet acoustic strums and Molina's voice assumes angelic simplicity. The gentle clap of the rhythm creeps in and this builds the tempo with incredible subtlety until Molina's breathy deliveries evolve into almost horn-like tone and sound out like an instrument of another planet. Los Hingos De Marosa follows a similar structure laying down complexly woven textures of electronic chirps that are eventually punctuated with Molina's blissful voice.

Whether dancing playfully around the rhythm or swirling with nagging endurance Molina evolves and contorts her voice to fit the organic sounds that surround it and its captivation lies in its ability to greet you with the most human of touches and also behave in truly otherworldly ways. Her use of voice-as-instrument here has created a restless, magical, narcotic master piece.


19th Sep 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Nail The Cross

New Cross has come even further into its own recently - first the Montague Arms was named best pub in Britain and now we have our own music festival. 

Thanks to the folks from Domino Records and Adventures In The Beetroot Field, September 27th will see New Cross over-run with quality music from established acts like Archie Bronson Outfit, Clinic and These New Puritans - as well as newcomers like Micachu & The Shapes.

Domino is hosting a stage at the famous local university, Goldsmiths... Performing will be the miraculous talents of Archie Bronson Outfit, Clinic, These New Puritans and The Count (AKA Herve) all preaching the good word and exorcising your dance demons with an revelation of new music. There’ll also be other five others stages and numerous galleries, with arts based activities and music from the likes of during throughout the day Benga, Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man, the XX, Loefah (Digital Mystikz), Afrikan Boy and Oneman until 5am.

Tickets are £15 and available here. Check out myspace for more info.


26th Aug 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet


Matador are now on the download store bandwagon, with a comparable effort to the recently announced Domino store. They offer mp3's for $0.80 and more-or-less uncompressed FLAC files for $0.99 - or $10 for an album, including whoppers like the 49 track Crooked Rain re-release.

While FLAC is marginally more fiddly than the uncompressed WAV's offered by Domino, the current exchange rate makes Matador an attractive offer - nearing my suggested £5 for an uncompressed new release.

Talking of downloads, check out iTunes for a limited 12"/Download only Oxford Collapse 5-track EP - The Hann-Byrd, which can be had in iTunes' own DRM-free 256 kbps format for £3.16.


15th Aug 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

Digital Dominos

Boom! Domino Records has gone digital, with their own online download store. Files are 320 kbps MP3, but you can also get full quality WAV versions at the same price (79p per track). Being a nerd, that future-proofing issue often holds me back, so this is a great step forward.

While 79p isn't expensive I still think the prices need to come down enough to undercut CDs - else what's the point? The Last Shadow Puppets can be had for £6.99 over at Play or £6.99 at Amazon, while it comes in at £7.99 here...


31st Jul 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

She & Him

Volume One


This unusual project pairs together Portland guitarst/producer M. Ward and actress (and friend to the elves), Zooey Deschanel - who I've always taken a shine to after assuming her parents were J.D. Salinger fans. After being paired together for a duet over the closing credits of the movie The Go Getter, the unlikely pair formed a developing bond, which led to Deschenal sending her demos to Ward, who suggested recording together. An internet relationship blossomed, ending with the recording of the album which was then mixed by Bright Eyes alumni Mike Mogis - who also plays on the album. It's been out for a while on Merge in the US, but thankfully Domino has seen fit to release this intriguing project in the UK.

Charming opener Sentimental Heart sets the tone, sketching a nostalgic 50's-style tale of teenage angst. Deschanel's crooning voice is effortlessly and infinitly charming, giving the album an instant appeal, while restrained instrumentation backs up the vocals, building slowly into a bombastic ochestral finale. M. Ward makes only the briefest of vocal appearances on the album - dropping in some backing vocals here and there - but he is ever-present and his guitar work adds some magical touches on several occasions. I suspect he's also in charge of what sounds like a kazoo and a touch of whistling.

The album also gives Ward plenty of room to demonstrate his production talents - building up the perfecty positioned retro sound of the album, which manages to show considerable restraint with so many opportunities to break out the brass section - especially next to this year's far less restrained 50's/60's throwback, The Last Shadow Puppets. The sweeping slide guitar of down trodden-broken-hearted-country-ballad Change Is Hard is magical and the Carole King-esqu Thought I saw Your Face builds to a soaring finale, while I Was Made For You finds Deschanel providing her own do-wop backing vocals.

Patsy Cline, Dusty Springfield, Carole King - the reference points span far and wide, but still this album manages to maintain a surprising air of originality. Solid pop with a bit of depth, the songs are never too long - making for a concise, cohesive, continually entertaining album, tied together mostly by the attidude of delivery, which even when potentially maudlin seems continually upbeat.


18th Jul 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Knowle West Boy


Knowle West Boy kicks off with Puppy Toy, a bluesy bar-room brawl being played out late at night; Bacative sounds like a Maxinquaye outtake, C'mon Baby's a stomp-rock and Council Estate is the sort of song that only Tricky can pull off - 2:39 of what's basically a single riff packed with furious drums that can barely contain their excitement at getting to pull off another roll, vocals dropping into dub echo chambers, Rage Against The Machine-style distortion that all stops as suddenly as it starts. Throughout this great album there are harmonicas floating over ragga-lines, smokey female voices, keyboard washes, rock guitars, heavy heavy beats - and a Kylie cover thrown in for the fun of it. 

There's so much going on in this album it puts most other recent records to shame - it's like Tricky has absorbed everything that's great about British music and distilled it here, leaping around without worrying about "confusing his audience" or "not being coherent" or any of that marketing crapola that blands out so much of focus grouped modern culture. It's hyperactive without being ADD - there's so much attention to detail here, so much love of the sheer joy of making music, that it's a totally infectious, convincing project.

It's like he's made a great mixtape using only Tricky songs. He so generous with singing duties, employing so many different vocalists (especially women) that it's easy to keep checking your iPod to make sure it hasn't slipped into shuffle after a few tracks. 

Like Beck's new one Modern Guilt (released on the same day), it's a return to form that makes you remember why you thought he was so great in the first place (and makes you think you might have been missing out in the interim).


7th Jul 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Knowle West Boy

first Portishead, then Martina Topley Bird and Massive Attack's Meltdown — now the other main dude from the 90s "don't call it trip hop" scene is back: Tricky's site for Knowle West Boy (his new one on Domino) is up, with a video, a track and the option to download some parts to remix.


19th May 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

Lie Down In The Light


We may be heading for a recession but our usual touchstones of gloom and melancholy seem hellbent on taking us in the opposite direction. David Berman's Silver Jews are due to release an unusually positive new record and here Will Oldham follows up 2006's The Letting Go with an album bathed in weary resolution and renewed warmth. Both these artists have produced some of their finest work while struggling through their darkness and likewise both seem to project their new work from a well fought point of resolved insight. But the ultimate success of these two records come from a genuine wisdom that was born out of experience and a deep searching for a truth behind this human experience. They haven't just decided to make an 'upbeat record' but have allowed this new dawn in their understanding to shine on every word they utter and though these words will always be tinged with sadness they display an outlook glistening with light.

Oldham gently counts in the record with the retrospective Easy Does It. The whole feel of this album is encapsulated in this first song as it lovingly rakes over past beliefs and viewpoints to compare them to a newly acquired calmness and strength. "There are other ways, I used to think, to find my way around, the wood and the caves and the bad woman's ways that were always to be found." The whole song shimmers with this new "One Way" that Oldham refers to as he looks around him and sees the light shine off everyday wonders like the moon, friends and family and "good, earthly music singing into my head."

This album explores every range of Olham's vocals from the joyous country lilt of Easy Does It to the intimate whisperings of What's Missing Is. Musically it's just as rich from the clipped fiddle on Glory Goes to For Every Field There's A Mole's wonderful clarinet. Oldham's delicate guitar playing dances eagerly throughout the record but is also joined by colourful touches of lap steel. Dawn McCarthy's sweet harmonies shadowed Oldham's every word in The Letting Go and the duet role falls to Ashley Webber here with some beautiful results. You Want That Picture sees them assume the part of two accusing lovers while on Other's Gain they rise in harmony to majestic grandeur. The sense of loneliness is passing from every record Oldham makes, not only due to the company he keeps on the songs but in his words that fall so precisely from his mouth. On Other's Gain he tells of the importance to "Keep your loved ones near, and let them know just where you be," while Easy Does It describes "the wood and the smell and the word of farewell that I always had to sound."

This new embrace of the world and the people around him is at the very heart of this records warmth. Instead of the forked-tongue critic lurking in the judgmental shadow of the world Lie Down In The Light displays a new found knowledge of the artists place in this life and on songs like So Everyone he aims to declare it to all in earshot. But while this might be a celebration, Katrina And The Waves it most certainly is not. Lie Down In The Light might be the antithesis both in title and tone to one of Oldham's finest albums, 1999's I See A Darkness, but it's joyousness is delivered with patience and humility like one who has seen the light but is in no hurry to explore, opting rather, to dwell there knowingly in its warmth. Like Berman, Oldham's ability to describe joy as well as pain is giving new strength to his work and is transforming him into a more well rounded song writer and as this joy has come from pain its profundity is more striking and long lasting.


19th May 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Bubble and Scrape


A couple of year’s ago I wrote a review of Sebadoh’s Bubble and Scrape, for no other reason than I happened to listen to it for the first time in a while and wanted to give it some dues. Now, following on from other Sebadoh long-players The Freed Man and III, Bubble and Scrape is getting the re-release treatment, giving anyone who didn’t rush out and buy it after 2006’s gushing write-up another chance.

Eagle-eyed readers will note the addition of an extra star over there on the left, for which I make no apologies. I bloody love this album. Sebadoh were/are one of the most important groups in my music listening timeline - the fact that they set the bar way back in the early 90s and that bar still rarely gets challenged (even after a couple of unprecedented years of new music exposure courtesy of this site) is testament to their all-round indie rock greatness.

From album opener and possibly one of the finest songs about a relationship breaking down Soul and Fire (“Not there to soothe your soul, friend to tender friend, I think our love is coming to an end”), to the sheer abandon of closer Flood and it’s promise of a truly awesome and terrifying night: “Yeah. Alright. We’re gonna ride with the flood tonight!” It’s an album full of invention, balls, paranoia, intimacy and energy that flies around in all directions, barely held together by its basic home-recorded style production.

Previously, I name checked a few songs as album highs, how I missed Sacred Attention out of that list is inexcusable as to me it sounds like Sebadoh playing Fugazi – and if you know what I mean by that, then you know. If you don’t – then try and find out, it will be worth it. But to be honest, all the tracks stand-up – even ‘difficult’ tracks such as Elixir is Zog and No Way Out have a role to play, representing the stoned psychotic side of an album and group with several personalities.

As for additional material that comes with the re-release, it’s an assortment of odds, sods and demos including mashed-up versions of Sister, Happily Divided and Emma Get Wild that are even rawer than the originals and worth a listen. A nice, new, positive acoustic take on Soul and Fire (“There to soothe your soul, friend to tender friend, call me if you ever want to start again”.) and some obligatory sonic recording tomfoolery in the Freed Man vain. All in all 15 extra ‘tracks’ probably best categorised by the titles of two of them Visibly Wasted and Messing Around.

But it’s not really about the extras. It’s incredible to think that Bubble and Scrape was originally released 15 years ago. That it has aged so well, justifies its classic status. A lot of albums have come and gone in those years and yet it still punches its weight and holds a lofty position in my all time favourites. I look forward to the day where I can pass this to future generations and say ‘Listen. This is the music I loved as a young man’.


16th May 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Adem Ilhan's 2004 debut Homesongs was a delight indeed, bristling with home-made charm and sparkling with all sorts of intimate delicacies. It was fragile and vulnerable but used enough touches of Fridge's, his former band's, eccentricities to separate it from all the other male singer-songwriters that were his contemporaries. By the time his followup, Love And Other Planets had emerged two years later the market was brimming over with such artists and for me Adem was lost in their cacophony of breathy chatter. So with this third album I was pleased to see a slightly different approach. That approach comes in the form of Takes, a collection of cover versions of songs released in the decade between 1991 - 2001, a period of great musical influence to Adem. So with this interesting slant on not only an Adem album but a covers album, coupled with the newly reformed Fridge I was expecting some sort of step away from the comfort zones this artists has resided in for too long.

Sadly I was disappointed once again. Takes starts off so well with a quietly dazzling version of Bedhead's 1992 single Bedside Table. Adem's voice is soft but confident with his hushed tones following gently alongside his delicate finger-picking and gently fuzzy backing-effects. It's one of the longer songs on the record and follows a repeated vocal pattern that takes its time to get the album started but serves as a strong introduction. PJ Harvey's Dry, from the same year, follows and keeps the standard and strength going. These versions are heavily stripped down to their bare bones but Adem retains their melody with a fuller production than his previous home recordings, playing every instrument himself.

Unfortunately Lisa Germano's Slide marks the start of the gradual slide back into Adem obscurity. Be it the choice of songs or their treatment here but throughout most of the latter part of this record Adem works as a musical Pol Pot by sweeping aside all the varied characteristics of these different songs and reducing them all to the Adem norm. For him to cover Aphex Twin seems like a task indeed but his treatment of To Cure A Weakling Child is a lesson in biting off more than you can chew. He sets himself this mammoth challenge then shys away from it by delivering yet another delicate folktronic ditty. To contrast this choice, his decision to take on Yo La Tengo's Tears Are In Your Eyes is a no brainer. A fragile song dripping in melancholy is a simple enough gig for Ilhan but I guess the real skill is how he manages to make it sound like his Aphex Twin song. That can't be easily done but he seems to pull it off time after time from here on in going through such varied source material as Smashing Pumpkins, Tortoise, The Breeders and ending with another no-brainer. Low's Laser Beam is a hollow masterpiece that simply doesn't suit this singer's voice. He screeches his way through it's empty corridors reducing it to just another slightly annoying Adem song. I applaud his choices here as they too are a collection of songs from a very informative time in my own life but his treatment and reluctance to stray from his usual blueprint level a creative decade out to simple mediocrity.


14th May 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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It's She & Him Again

Domino's Double Six spin-off has picked up the M. Ward / Zooey Deschanel project She & Him for a UK release. It'll be out on July 14th.


8th May 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

The Last Shadow Puppets

The Age of the Understatement


Recalling the likes of Scott Walker and Phil Spector, The Last Shadow Puppets are a side project from chief Arctic Monkey Alex Turner and Miles Kane of lesser-known Wirral locals The Rascals. Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford plays drums as well as reprising the production role he took on last year's Favourite Worst Nightmare.

Inspired by that late 50's / early 60's sound, the band employ lavish strings, rich melodies and a sweeping grandeur that places them well away from the Arctic Monkeys' spikey, contemporary sound. Off to a flying start, the title track sets up the scenario - with Turner and Kane's harmonious vocals galloping along to the accompanyment of furious strings. Lyrically less of a first-person affair than the Monkeys, steering away from the minutiae of teenage life in Sheffield for a more subtle style of big screen story-telling. There's still room for Rock amongst all this orchestration however and many songs recall the early electric era of 7" singles - barely topping 3 minutes on most tracks. Highlights like Standing Next To Me and Only The Truth sum the approach up perfectly, doing away with long intros and getting straight to the full-blown matter at hand.

It's a fun listen, but at the end of the day it's a concept stretched a little too far. The similarity between Turner and Kane's voices does little to add much distinction between tracks and while it's by no means an offensive listen I just find my attention drifting towards the end. Finale The Time Has Come Again brings things back into focus however, with a suitably sweeping climax as the soft acoustic intro is embellished by the twin vocals and a rising orchestral arrangement.

In an age of mega marketing and struggling record sales, Turner has maintained steadfast integrity, shirking the expected mainstream and sticking to his guns. This is an unusual release, but one that is strong, original and superbly produced. A far cry from the Hoxton infested lo-fi 80s revivalist output that a lot of hyped bands seem to be trying for these days.


8th May 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Animal Collective

Water Curses


Having anticipated and enjoyed every new release from Sung Tongs onwards, I was surprised to find myself a little less than enthusiastic at a brand new EP from the Animal Collective. The possible reason for my slight reservation towards new material from what I deem to be currently one of the most interesting and baffling bands is too much too soon.

Water Curses consists of four songs, three of which are the remains from the Strawberry Jam sessions and one new track. Not sure which is which but they do vary in tone and texture as is often the case but what struck me is how consistently enjoyable these songs are. Nothing here is a great departure from their recent back catalogue, but no matter how highly I rate Animal Collective it is often a laborious process to get from the start of an album to the finish. Regardless of the need for patience I always feel rewarded for the effort. It certainly took a lot less time to appreciate the four tracks here and they even had me humming one of the many melodies that swirl in out from the first listen.

The title track Water Curses is the first and most accessible track, it is a short and sweet song gently sang with no vocal extremities to deter the casual listener. The customary noises are there but restrained by the strong melody, it is only the high pitched mock organ that adds the expected twist. The following songs do demand more attention but benefit from a contrasting tone, as they fleet and float in their awkward structures.

Given it is an EP, which I often associate as filler between more significant releases, this does stand head and shoulders as the best form of introduction to this eclectic band. This is partly down to having only four tracks, which is just enough not be annoyed by their originality but to appreciate it.


25th Apr 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Four Tet



Say what you like about Four Tet but "same ol, same ol" is unlikely to be included. Having put out a rather under-par fourth album in 2005 with Everything Ecstatic and following it with ongoing collaboration with Steve Reid this 4 track EP is the first piece of solo material we've been given for a while, but boy was it worth the wait. Having slightly exhausted his form of cut-up beats and calamitous percussion, he crafts here a more minimal and deep techno formation that hints at conforming but always keeps it's hand hovering dangerously over the sabotage button where the slightest press could send the beat spiraling off into glorious irregularity.

From the opening title track to the closing disco percussion of Wing Body Wing these songs take in deep breaths of space then exude from their every pore sublime ripples of sonic richness. At over 10 minutes in length Ringer is a stunning way to open this EP. The sense of space is achieved by the slow build up and gradual layering of vast swathes of tone and delicate beats that climb upon eachother, higher and higher, until they stand proud, surveying this endless landscape. Ribbons drips with moist lushness while Swimmer rides the wave of a constant, resonating tone then slowly fades in erratic cymbal beats that swirl from one ear to the next with anarchic confidence. Wing Body Wing pulls focus on Hebdon's trademark recuttings of jazz breaks and brings them into line with a deep heartbeat and almost african rhythms. Gentle melody tip-toes around this rhythm making way for driving bursts of synthesizer.

This EP heralds a very promising direction for Hebdon. This is techno made with an afrobeat/krautrock sensibility and it may be minimal but this artists grasp of detail is very much present. Every moment of this record has been viewed under a microscope but the result sounds effortless and joyous. It beats with an unstoppable pulse and shields its eyes from the glaring sunshine ahead as it looks forward to the expanding horizon it has just created.


15th Apr 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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Do It


For some strange reason, whenever I listen to Clinic I get this twisted vision of the band as puppet masters and on the end of their strings dance the recently slaughtered bodies of the Beach Boys. Lifeless, yet eerily animated, these corpses play out Clinic's own brand of surf-punk with singer Ade Blackburn's pursed-lipped vocals crawling from the mouth of Brian Wilson like maggots from a Thunderbird. Anyway...on with the review.

Do It is Clinic's fifth album and sees the band inhabiting much the same universe that they've been sole occupiers of since they started. It's a warped technicolor celebration that can veer from dreamy pop to acid psychosis with very little advance warning. This bipolar tension is deliciously seductive and on Do It Clinic have never sounded so relaxed and so uptight.

Memories opens this record with a gentle harpsichord chime which clears the way for a stomping marching band of calamitous percussion and driving guitars. With unstoppable ferocity it tramples down the aural highstreet of your mind, stopping dead as Blackburn imparts his bittersweet wisdom, then marching on as the occupying forces take their positions. The guitar strings on Tomorrow nearly buckle under the weight of the empty twang while single The Witch continues the advancing assault with thunderous guitars and booming rhythm. Shopping Bag is the point where this army takes up position and the real battle begins. With ferocious drumming and wild clarinet squeals Blackburn's voice reaches fever pitch as it assumes a crazed, demonic tone. It marks the most feral point of this record and even though the downbeat tempo of Corpus Christi shows no signing of afflicting the same damage its seething tension and distant squeals spell danger.

The juxtaposition that inhabits Clinic's sound is what give them their edge. Stylistically Do It doesn't stray too far from the ground covered by 2006's Visitations but simply reinforces and subtly steps up the tension between paranoia and tranquil waters. Their music envelopes the listener in an almost drug induced haze where nothing is as it seems. Visions of mysterious fortune tellers' horses in High Coin or the booming fog horn on Mary And Eddie loom out of this haze like dark ships that threaten your every turn. Each song continues this maniacal descent into madness as they spin you round and round on their twisted broken-down fair ground ride until you emerge, exhausted, the other side to the sound of chiming church bells. There is a reason why Clinic inhabit their own universe, no one else dares.


9th Apr 2008 - Add Comment - Tweet

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The Kills

Midnight Boom


Regular tabloid readers and those familiar with the gossip pages of the free newspapers that litter public transport will no doubt have heard of The Kills. Not because the press have been dutifully reproducing record label Domino’s PR campaign or because the transatlantic duo provide the soundtrack for the 3am Girls wicked whisperings over complimentary champagne. Of course, it is because the Kills’ guitarist Jamie Hince happens to date the supermodel with a thing for scruffy rockers. There is a simple reason why Jamie Hince is better known as Mr Kate Moss and that is because, after the best part of a decade of trying, The Kills just aren’t very good.

It is a pleasure to review music of merit. It appeals to the inner fan who has a chance to wax lyrical and marvel at the kind of creativity a limited axe-smith such as myself can even dream of producing. The task of being a ‘critic’ is less enjoyable. Much as it may pain to stick the knife in; if the Chimpomatic reader wants an honest review then that is what you shall get.

There are two fundamental problems with Midnight Boom. First of all there is a deja vu sense that this has all been done before. Edgy bands with minimal rhythms, choppy riffs and ‘cooler than thou’ vocal drawlings are nothing new. Even if they had managed to master this art, and no doubt it sounds great in the rehearsal rooms, by now it would be met with a shrug. Midnight Boom is offered up with very little panache. It is an album that sounds less like Television and more like the fuzzy sloganeering of the television sets from U2’s early 90s effort Zooropa and less akin to Blondie or Patti Smith and more like INXS straining for cool credibility.

It is this pursuit of cool that is the second of The Kills’ flaws. There is a sense that they know less of who they are and more of who they wish they were. It is a pyrrhic victory for style or substance resulting in an album that ends up feeling calculated and contrived. Songs such as Sour Cherry and Cheap and Cheerful lack any convincing passion or punch. The nagging refrain when listening to these tunes that try so hard to pretend that they’re not trying hard is of Brainstorm. The Arctic Monkeys could have been singing of Hince and sidekick Alison Mosshart when they mocked “top marks for not trying…but we can’t take our eyes off the t-shirt and ties combination.”

When all’s done I can’t help agreeing the Kills’ own statement that “I want you to be crazy, you’re boring baby.” Except for the fact you go out with Kate Moss obviously.


25th Mar 2008 - 2 comments - Add Comment - Tweet

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