Playlist #3

Third time lucky? I think not! I don’t mean the tunes of course, I need to come up with a better name for this feature, suggestions are very welcome.

This week is a mixed bag with two top remixes from Delphic and Alex Metric of Phoenix and Gorillaz respectively. Whoever said it was the Germans were stuck in the 80’s? Perhaps it was David Hasselhoff himself to preserve a career beyond eating burgers off the ground. None the less Jamaica follow the Vanguard French revival led Minitel Rose, Kavinsky and others. No need to fret straight up rock n roll will not be ignored and Austin garage punksters Harlem don’t disappoint with their jangley strokes-esque ‘Friendly Ghost’. Last but not least is ‘Flakes’ from Mystery Jets ahead of their impending Dublin performance tomorrow night in The Academy (Volcanic ash permitting perhaps).

Mp3: Harlem – Friendly Ghost

Mp3: Phoenix – Fences (Delphic Remix)

Mp3: Jamaica – I Think I Like U 2

Mp3: Gorillaz – Stylo (Alex Metric Remix)

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Record Store Day: Blur ‘Fool’s Day’

Record Store Day takes place this Saturday 17th of April. It’s a day of celebration and support for our local independent record stores around the world, amongst the numerous releases and goings on one thing in particular has caught my eye, no prizes for guessing, yes it’s the new Blur record ‘Fool’s Day’. It’s the first song all 4 members of the band have recorded together since Think Tank’s ‘Battery In Your Leg’ way back in 2003. With only 1000 copies of the 7″ being pressed I can feel the air of disappointment descending already!

For all the other releases and goings on around Ireland check out Nialler9’s ‘Record Store Day Round-up’

Not accustomed to leaving you disappointed I have some lesser known Blur Bootleg material for ya’ll. A few years back a bootleg mashup of Parklife entitled Parkspliced appeared on the interweb, I think I made reference to it a while back, anyway it’s a great way/excuse to listen back to some old tunes.

Mp3: Blur – Godlife (Parklife V The Beach Boys)

You can get the full Parkspliced experience here

Kenan Bell – Until The Future

Going on past experiences teachers generally don’t make good musicians, just look at Sting for god sake! But here to reverse the trend is teacher turned rapper Kenan Bell. Bell isn’t the archetypal ‘rapper’, growing up in the lily-white Los Angeles suburbs hanging out with his mates who were goths, punks, indie kids and ravers and coming to dislike almost all of what rap has been over the past 15 years. Debut album Until the Future is a culmination of these influences and more, giving reflections on real life issues and experiences far away from the glitz and glamour of the music he detests so greatly.

From the off he means business, laying down ‘Like This, ‘Fruit And Vegetables’ and ‘Chlo’ as statements of intent. This is a man doing his thing, his way and having his say about life and experiences with complete disregard for everyone else.  Bell isn’t attempting to propel hip-hop into unfathomed waters in a new decade, it often sounds more akin to legends like ‘Lords of the Underground’ and ‘De La Soul’.  The well timed, clever, catchy rhymes and intelligent, insightful lyrics are constant, blended beautifully with simple synths and stripped down indie. Together they are a formidable force, delivering a crushing blow against all the clichéd guns, money and bling associated with hip-hop.

It’s impossible to single out tracks for individual praise, this is an ‘album’ fine tuned carefully to be listened to collectively in the flow intended. Evolution is the name of the game rather than revolution of US hip-hop, he has cleverly honed in on all the great things that make hip-hop special and added his own sparkle with no pomp, front or facade, just a passion for music and being genuine.

Rating: 8/10

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Kenan Bell made Playlist #1 earlier in the year.

Farewell Supergrass

Way to wreck a buzz? Just as the Ice-age was receding and what looked like some semblance of summer had arrived we are hit with the wet fish of Supergrass’s announcement to call it a day this summer after a fruitful 17 years. The statement read:

“Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years. We still love each other but, cliché notwithstanding, musical differences have led to us moving on and of course we all wish each other well in the future.”

Supergrass exploded on the scene during the Britpop years with the singles ‘Caught by the Fuzz’, ‘Alright’ and ‘Mansize Rooster’. Over the course of their career Supergrass proved many doubters wrong, carving out their totally idiosyncratic and not insubstantial niche in rock music over six studio albums and some of the punchiest singles ever. They went on to outlive most of their contemporaries, yes there was plenty of absolute drivel released during the Britpop days and after, but not by Supergrass who should be placed firmly on par with the likes of blur in terms ability, quality and consistency.

One of their greatest attributes was their undoubted ability to produce fun, quirky and often humorous music whilst equally at home with more serious material whilst always rockin’, especially live. It is perhaps due to the former that they never received the true credit they deserved and remained unfortunately one of the most underrated bands of their time, especially considering the praise and attention heaped on The Verve and Blur when they reformed, warranted or not.

For me it’s their b-sides that make them extra special, while many others simply used second or third-rate tracks to fill up singles they more often than not produced tracks with quality that usually befits an album. I must dig some of them out on here at a later stage, just remember the immortal lines “In one, Shepherds pie, In two, Shepherds pie, In three, Shepherds pie, And Bully’s special prize, A years supply of shepherds pie (oh, cheers)”.

Onwards and upwards, I guess this is karma, Blur announced some new material in the offing and The Libertines reform, the balance in the force has been realigned.

The band will play four farewell shows in Glasgow, Manchester, London and Paris this summer.

Video: The Rags – Uniforms & Neckties

Few bands have the ability to infuriate and impress in equal measures as Dublin band The Rags, who over the past maybe 4 years have released a number brilliant (if underrated) singles and played a string of equally impressive live shows. It’s not the quality that disappoints but the unfortunate lack of material to surface. The drought is finally over though, debut album A National Light is set to be released in May and to celebrate a promo video has appeared online, ‘Uniforms & Neckties’ has all the hallmarks of an angry, stinging attack on the modern rat race chasing a lifestyle that only makes people miserable. Looking forward to the album.

The Rags play Dublin’s Whelan’s on May 29th

Max Tannone – Mos Dub

Summer has arrived and it’s got a new best friend, Mos Dub. The album is the brainchild of New York producer Max Tannone who has by now a pretty solid reputation for mashups. It can be an arduous task trying to find great mashups and mixtapes sometimes, due to the sheer volume on the web these days, fear not, this guy doesn’t disappoint.

The idea of pitting the lyrical stylings of Mos Def against the classic sounds of old school Jamaican reggae and dub is nothing short of genius and would be littered with pitfalls for most. Mos Dub cares not for pitfalls and strides majestically forward fusing the finest elements of styles and genres, capturing all the feel good vibes and rhythms of  reggae and rap to give an honest and fresh feel. Max’s skills for timing, mixing and mashing are impeccable without doubt. Similarly chosing  the intelligent, political and insightful lyrics of Mos Def’s which aren’t too far from what you would see from actual reggae artists gives it a true authentic Jamaican feel.

Whether or not like me, you’re a fan Mos Def and all his musical guises be it solo or in Blackstar with Talib Kweli, this blend with reggae and dub is a marvelous piece of work, let’s hope we get plenty of scorching sunshine to go with the cracking summertime tunes!

Mp3: Mos Dub – Johnny Too Beef

Mp3: Mos Dub – History Town

You can get the full album from Max Tannone’s website.

Video: Lethal Bizzle & Nick Bridges feat Luciana – ‘Go Go Go’

Zee Bizzle is back! I was a big fan of Back to Bizznizz album and it’s no fear, no frontiers attitude to ‘Grime’ especially it’s homage to great British punk. New single Go Go Go’ seems sure to be a summer smash, I get the feeling he’s doing a ‘Bonkers’ on it, not necessarily a bad thing none the less.

‘Go Go Go’ is out May 17th.

Shout Out Out Out Out – Reintegration Time

Reintegration Time is the second album from Canadian experimentalists Shout Out Out Out Out, who unfortunately I have yet to see in the flesh but by all accounts are a live act to behold. Their sound, style and genre are quite difficult categorise due to the colossal mash-up of sounds, think of a mutant creation from what’s good about Zzz, Pivot and fellow Canadians Holy Fuck. The result of this melting pot of sounds, experimentation and talent is a record loaded with rhythmic beats, throbbing bass lines and synths, this kind of stuff can absolutely destroy dance floors.

There is an unexplainable realness to this record which leaves you feeling somewhat part of the whole process. The listener is taken on an upbeat and somewhat relaxing journey from openers ‘Run’, ‘Guilt Trips Sink Ships’ and ‘Bad Choices’ straight through to  the utterly chilled and captivating electronica that is ‘Reintegration Time’. As if there wasn’t enough creativity on offer within this sextet, they have recruited fellow Edmonton hero Cadence Weapon and San Serac to lend a hand.

The album is never flashy, always grounded in their obvious self belief in their own abilities, which after a couple of listens you will be converted. There is a constant building and progression throughout this record, urged on emphatically by industrial style precise precession and rich techno. Simply put it has more analogue synths, driving bass lines and robotic vocals than you could shake a stick at and could quite easily come with a health warning, ‘may cause dance floor Armageddon’.

Rating: 7.5/10


Achtung Save 6Music!

Unless you have been in hibernation you’re probably already fully aware of the campaign to save 6 Music in the UK from closure as part of the BBC’s cynical cost cutting exercise.  Far from me to repeat ever-changing news it’s just easier to point to the various Facebook groups and websites, which suits my lazy disposition:

The battle  to save the station has taken a rather strange and personally interesting twist with campaigners encouraging the station’s small but dedicated band of listeners to propel Half Man Half Biscuit’s ‘Joy Division Oven Gloves’ into the charts. Birkenheads finest poets, whose tours used to coincide with Tranmere Rovers away fixtures are one of my favourite bands of all time and are utterly unique in the music world, so much so that the ‘masses’ are unlikely to fall in love with them. Although they’ve recorded far more epic, leftfield, amusing and interesting songs, which they could have assaulted the charts with, it’ll be pretty interesting to see how it  fairs out, more so than the RATM Christmas number 1 campaign anyway.

One of the campaign’s coordinators, Chris Shade spoke to the Guardian this week saying:

“We don’t mind if it gets to six or 36,” it had started out as “a bit of a joke”, but the song – from the band’s 2005 album Achtung Bono – has now become an unofficial anthem of the station.

“The important thing is that a lot of people are getting very passionate about saving 6 Music,” Shade said. “I hope it will help make the BBC see sense. It is too important a station to lose. With expanding digital radio coverage I think they will attract a much larger audience to the station if only they give it a chance.”

We’ll have to wait till later on to see how it all goes but best of luck to the campaigners and HMHB, enjoy the tune after the jump.

MMM – Nous Sommes MMM

This track is amazing, easily the best single electro track I have heard this year and it comes from MMM, a collaboration of Fiedel and Errorsmith. They have been knocking around under this guise for a couple of years now unbeknownst to me, but a quick listen through their short back catologue confirms quality. There’s not really anything extra I can say  about this tension filled record, just listen to it, absolute industrial genius, all  7 and 1/2 mins of it!