Thursday, 11 August 2016

Track Of The Day: Michael Kiwanuka - 'Love And Hate'

The beautifully sorrowful title track from British soul artist Michael Kiwanuka's excellent second album, which went to Number 1 in the UK albums chart a few weeks ago. 

Ed Jupp at God Is In The TV reviewed 'Love And Hate' a while back, saying "It is not exaggerating to say that this is the same kind of leap forward for a second album as the likes of Blur, Foals or Radiohead made." Read the rest of that review HERE

Meanwhile The Guardian described the record as "the work of an artist coming into his own."

HIGHLY recommended.

REWIND: The Chemical Brothers - 'Loops Of Fury'

More wonderful music from 1996 as RW/FF takes you aboard a musical TARDIS on a journey through musical history. If you weren't around or were too young to remember the mid 90s, consider this a lesson of enlightenment. If you (like me) were lucky enough to experience it all first time around, then these posts are a fine nostalgic blast from the blast.

The non-album song 'Loops of Fury' is the title track from an EP by English big beat duo The Chemical Brothers, released in 1996. It reached number 13 on the UK Singles Chart, but only stayed in the top 75 for one week.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Track Of The Day: Paul Draper - 'The Silence Is Deafening'

Former Mansun frontman and creative force Paul Draper recently returned to the world of music with his debut solo release 'EP One', which scored the hugely underrated songwriting legend a Number 1 position on the UK vinyl singles chart.

Shortly after the demise of Mansun, Draper began recording a solo album, which was scrapped due to his disillusion with the music business. After years away from the public eye, Paul played with Leeds band Menace Beach on a session recorded for Marc Riley's BBC Radio 6 Music show a few years ago and was surprised to find that the show had received a deluge of emails from Mansun fans wishing for his return to music. And now 'EP Two' is on its way, followed by the tentatively titled 'Spooky Action' album, which is due for release later in 2016.

Until then, 'EP One' features three brand new tracks that each show a different side to this hugely gifted songwriter. 'The Silence is Deafening', which was co-written with Catherine AD (aka The Anchoress) whose rather fine album 'Confessions Of A Romance Novelist' was co-produced and co-written by Paul. You can get the track as a FREE download by signing up to Draper's mailing list via this link HERE.

RW/FF spoke to Paul a few years back in an interview that you can read HERE.

REWIND: Oasis - ‘My Big Mouth' (Live At Knebworth Park)

Today (August 10) marks the 20th anniversary of the first of Oasis’ era-defining Knebworth gigs, the event of a generation. To celebrate, ‘My Big Mouth' (Live At Knebworth Park), taken from the upcoming special edition re-issue of Be Here Now, has been made available to stream and download as an instant grat: The expanded edition of the band's massively hyped 3rd album will be released in October, as will 'Supersonic', a documentary film about the band's glory years.

‘My Big Mouth’ was originally premiered at the legendary 1996 shows, where the band played to 250,000 fans over two nights after over 2.6 million people applied for tickets for the shows... The highest ever demand for concert tickets in British history! The new video for the live version of the terrific 'My Big Mouth' includes previously unseen footage of the crowds at Knebworth from the band’s helicopter.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Track Of The Day: Garbage - 'Empty'

It's been over 20 years now since Garbage made their arrival with their much-applauded debut album, and after many musical highs and lows, they returned a few months ago with their sixth studio album 'Strange Little Birds'.

While lauded as a return to form by many sections of the music press, a review on the God Is In TV website expresses a point of view that is closer to my own: It’s not really going to surprise anyone. Maybe it’s not meant to. If you like the band, you’ll like this. That’s the beginning, the middle and the end of it... Will not disappoint the fans one bit. For the more circumspect, there are three or four killer tracks and the rest is good but no more. A third of a genuinely brilliant record, two-thirds simply decent." Read that full review HERE. One of the album's stand-out tracks comes in the form of the Breeders-esque 'Empty', where tasty guitars wail and Shirley Manson is at her icy best.

REWIND: Northern Uproar - 'From A Window'

More wonderful music from 1996 as RW/FF takes you aboard a musical TARDIS on a journey through musical history. If you weren't around or were too young to remember the mid 90s, consider this a lesson of enlightenment. If you (like me) were lucky enough to experience it all first time around, then these posts are a fine nostalgic blast from the blast.

Underrated Stockport combo Northern Uproar formed during the Britpop explosion of the mid '90s. After causing a bidding war amongst various record labels, Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield produced the tracks that made up the band's self-titled debut album, along with Manics producer Dave Eringa. The enjoyably lively 'From A Window' made its impression on the UK charts and earned them a Number 17 hit. Full of wide-eyed excitement, rattling with optimism and running on a wave of punky guitars, 'From A Window' was the group's biggest hit and a perfect taster for their first album.

After splitting in the late 90's, the band reformed in 2006 and have released another 3 albums since, each one an interesting develpment of their sound. RW/FF interviewed frontman Leon Meya a few years ago, in an article that you can read HERE. I was honoured when the band asked me to write a full biography for their website, and what I wrote can be found HERE.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Track Of The Day: Blossoms - 'Charlemagne'

There's been lots of false hope over recent years, but right now it seems that indie pop is enjoying a new lease of life. Stockport-based five piece Blossoms are at the forefront of this new renaissance, and their self-titled debut album is out now.

On this rare occasion, the hype around this new band is entirely necessary, since the album is a wonderful piece of work, packed full of brilliantly written songs which put melody first and truly catch the ear.

To call the opening track 'Charlemagne' "infectious" would be a massive understatement. It may never leave your head... Do youselves a favour and pick up a copy of this record.

REWIND: Skunk Anansie - 'Weak'

More wonderful music from 1996 as RW/FF takes you aboard a musical TARDIS on a journey through musical history. If you weren't around or were too young to remember the mid 90s, consider this a lesson of enlightenment. If you (like me) were lucky enough to experience it all first time around, then these posts are a fine nostalgic blast from the blast.

Today's selection is from the much-loved Skunk Anansie, who (in some ways) were the first big band that I ever saw live, at a Radio 1 Roadshow in Weston-Super-Mare back in 1996 which was hosted by the then-omnipresent Chris Evans. My memories of that day can be found HERE. Skunk Anansie formed in March 1994, disbanded in 2001 and reformed in 2009. The terrific 'Weak' was released as a single in January '96 and was taken from their debut album 'Sunburnt And Paranoid'. It reached number 20 in the UK singles chart. Bizarrely, the song was covered by none other than Rod Stewart a couple of years later.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Track Of The Day: The Julie Ruin - 'I'm Done'

A noisy, hyperactive new track from The Julie Ruin, who are fronted by Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre). Their second album is called 'Hit Reset' and it includes this.

REWIND: Shed Seven - 'Getting Better'

Another classic single from 20 years ago. This time it's the first song that I ever heard from York-based indie legends Shed Seven. 'Getting Better' was the second single from their second album 'A Maximum High'. Capturing the excitement of the Britpop era, the song spent a total of 3 weeks in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number 14 in January 1996.

Since splitting up in 2003, the band reformed in 2007 and have continued to play live ever since, despite not releasing any new material yet...

Monday, 1 August 2016

Track Of The Day: Jagwar Ma - 'O B 1'

It's been a few years now since Australian genre-mashers Jagwar Ma unleashed their debut album 'Howlin'', and now they return with an infectious new single entitled 'O B 1'. It's taken from their upcoming second album 'Every Now and Then', which is due for release in the Autumn... 

REWIND: Lush - 'Single Girl'

I've featured lots of tracks from 1996 lately to celebrate 20 years since their release, so I'm going to carry on... 

'Single Girl' was a UK hit single by Lush, taken from their third album 'Lovelife', a record which saw the indie band away from their earlier dream pop/shoegazing style and embracing a more Britpop-oriented sound. 'Single Girl' was a number 21 hit in Jsnuary 1996, and the album became the biggest seller of their career. After an exhausting American tour, the band played their last performance for nearly two decades. Tragedy struck when drummer Chris Acland committed suicide in October 1996 and Lush did not perform again, eventually making an official break up announcement in early 1998. 

Refreshed and rejuvenated with new drummer Justin Welsh (formerly of Elastica), the group reformed last year in 2015 and released a wonderful new EP entitled 'Blind Spot' a few months ago.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Track Of The Day: Disclosure - 'BOSS'

A track that so far has to be the finest dance anthem of summer 2016. It's taken from the 3 track 'Moog For Love' EP, the latest release by UK electronic duo Disclosure

REWIND: Suede - 'Trash'

It's hard to believe that the Suede anthem 'Trash' was released 20 years ago today (July 29). Released in the summer of 1996, it was the first single to be taken from the band's third studio album 'Coming Up'. 

Even though I had discovered Suede a few years earlier and also bought the 'New Generation' cassette single, it was 'Trash' that confirmed Suede's status as one of my favourite bands of the time. 

The song reached number 3 in the UK singles chart and was the band's biggest selling UK single.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Track Of The Day: Julia Jacklin - 'Pool Party'

A stunning slice of alt-country from Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin. Even on first listen, it's one of those songs that your brain could mistake for an old classic that you've heard a thousand times, such is its instant beauty. "When I was growing up I was so ambitious; I’m going to be this amazing social worker, save the world, a great musician, fit, an amazing writer,” says the 25 year old from the Blue Mountains region. "Then you get to mid-20s and you realize you have to focus on one thing. Even if it doesn’t pay-off, or you feel embarrassed at family occasions because you’re the poor musician still; that’s the decision I made."

Jacklin is due to release her debut album 'Don't Let The Kids Win' later on this year and will be playing a few shows in the UK in November. 

REWIND: Babylon Zoo - Spaceman

A song which was impossible to escape during 1996. When I played it during my DJ sets (as a very young DJ at my Dad's club in Corsham), I'd often play an extended 12" version of the "Supervarian Mix" by Arthur Baker. 'Spaceman' was a 1996 chart-topping hit single by one-hit-wonders Babylon Zoo. It became massively popular after being featured on a Levis jeans advert and went straight to Number 1 on the UK singles chart in January 1996, selling 418,000 copies in the first week of release. At the time it was the fastest selling debut single by any artist in the UK. An album entitled 'The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes' was released soon after and debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart. I also remember being keen on the follow-up single 'Animal Army', which I haven;t heard in years. In 1999, a follow-up album was released, 'King Kong Groover', but singer Jas Mann decided not to promote the album as he was not getting support from his record label. Mann subsequently decided to move to India and work for an aid agency. The last I heard of him, he was working as a distributor for independent films. 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Track Of The Day - She Makes War - 'Drown Me Out'

Having witnessed the excellent multi-instrumentalist Laura Kidd (a.k.a She Makes War) live in action a couple of times, it was a pleasant surprise to hear her playing a live session recently for Marc Riley's BBC Radio 6 Music show. Not only did the performance impress hugely, but also reminded me about the recent release of the third She Makes War album 'Direction Of Travel'. And after a few listens, it casts its spell song by song, full of bright melody, vibrant delivery, illuminating arrangements all brought together with magnificent songwriting. 

On the opening 'Drown Me Out', the Bristol-based artist adds ear-catching melodies to a shadowy alt-rock background to conjure up a thing of dark, sorrowful grungey beauty. One of 2016's most essential records, 'Direction Of Travel' also features collaborations with Mark Chadwick of the Levellers and Tanya Donelly. The album is available now on CD and download, and She Makes War will be touring throughout the rest of the year.

REWIND: MARRS - 'Pump Up The Volume'

Today's REWIND selection is dedicated to Steve Young, who died a few days ago on July 13. MARRS were quite possibly the most important one-hit-wonder of all time. The project started in 1987 as a collaboration between the groups A.R. Kane and Colourbox. Instead of working together, the two acts recorded a track each, then swapped with each other for additional input. Of the two songs, 'Anitina' was an A.R. Kane track with drum programming by Colourbox's Steve Young, while 'Pump Up the Volume' was a Martyn Young track constructed largely of samples, and featured one of A.R. Kane's guitars.

The record was released in 1987 under the alias MARRS, an alias created from the forenames of the five artists: Martyn Young (from Colourbox), Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala (from A.R. Kane), Russell Smith (an associate A.R. Kane member), and Steve Young (from Colourbox). The track went to number 1 in the UK singles chart and is regarded as a significant milestone in the development of sampling culture.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Track Of The Day: The Living End - 'Monkey'

It's unbelievable to think that The Living End are barely known of here in the UK, yet during the 90's their single 'Prisoner Of Society' was the biggest selling song of the decade by any Australian band. Following the five year gap since their last album 'The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating', the trio have returned with a brand new album. The excellent 'Shift' is their seventh full-length studio effort, and one of 2016's finest albums so far. From it comes this melodic rock n roll blast of heavy, no-nonsense punk energy that comes served with the sort of chorus that Dave Grohl would kill for.

REWIND: Suicide - 'Rocket USA'

Alan Vega, the frontman of pivotal pre-punk band Suicide has died aged 78 years old. Henry Rollins broke the news in a statement that read: "With profound sadness and a stillness that only news like this can bring, we regret to inform you that the great artist and creative force, Alan Vega has passed away," reads a statement from Vega's family. 

"Alan passed peacefully in his sleep last night, July 16. He was 78 years of age.

Alan was not only relentlessly creative, writing music and painting until the end, he was also startlingly unique. Along with Martin Rev, in the early 1970’s, they formed the two person avant band known as Suicide. Almost immediately, their incredible and unclassifiable music went against every possible grain. Their confrontational live performances, light-years before Punk Rock, are the stuff of legend. Their first, self-titled album is one of the single most challenging and noteworthy achievements in American music.

Alan Vega was the quintessential artist on every imaginable level. His entire life was devoted to outputting what his vision commanded of him.

One of the greatest aspects of Alan Vega was his unflinching adherence to the demands of his art. He only did what he wanted. Simply put, he lived to create. After decades of constant output, the world seemed to catch up with Alan and he was acknowledged as the groundbreaking creative individual he had been from the very start.

Alan’s life is a lesson of what it is to truly live for art. The work, the incredible amount of time required, the courage to keep seeing it and the strength to bring it forth—this was Alan Vega.
Alan is survived by his amazing family, wife Liz and son Dante. His incredible body of work, spanning five decades, will be with us forever."

Suicide were a massive influence on some of my favourite bands, and the first I heard of them was a live version of this track that they played with Spiritualized, which I heard on a free CD that came with the NME in the late 90s. 'Rocket USA' can be found on the band's self-titled debut album, released in 1977.