Cast Reform for 15-year Anniversary Tour

Hmmmmmm. Re-unions can be tricky things but at the hazard of being ridiculed I’m pleased to hear this one, they were after all one of my favourite bands as a young teenager.

We live in unusual and uncertain times or so we’re told and the surprising news that Cast will reunite for a string of UK shows to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their debut album certainly was unusual. All Change was one of the best albums from the co-called Britpop era but the often mocked Liverpool four-piece failed to deliver anything of this standard with three subsequent records before their eventual split in 2001.

It’s certainly a strange development as lead singer John Power had appeared to have fallen out of love with his old songs and moved down a folky route with three solo albums Happening For Love, Willow She Weeps and Stormbreaker.

The singer revealed [to the NME] that he made the decision to reunite his old band mates after he started working on a body of new material which he felt would be right for Cast saying “Something’s brewing in my mind and it’s ready to pop,” he enthused. “I’ve been writing a body of work that has made me feel at peace with the stuff I’ve done in the past and I don’t want to think too far ahead, but I thought it would probably work for Cast. So I thought, ‘Why don’t we get together?”.

All Change sold over one million records and spawned four Top 20 hit singles – ‘Fine Time’, ‘Alright’, ‘Sandstorm’ and ‘Walkaway’.

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UK Dates:

Manchester Academy 2 (November 26)
Glasgow 02 ABC (27)
Liverpool 02 Academy (29)
London 02 Shepherds Bush Empire (December 3)

Introducing: The Lowly Knights

We seem to be currently witnessing a welcome revival of fortunes for folk music with Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn, Munford & Son et al proudly flying the flag but what of closer to home? Belfast’s The Lowly Knights look set to do the same and continue Ireland’s distinguished tradition in this genre.

Their journey began with humble beginnings, a one-off gig in their hometown led to further gigs (some sellouts), sharing the stage with numerous big names and critical acclaim for their expansive live shows and releases to date. They instil a real sense of optimism through their music which is hugely intricate and vastly layered with beautiful harmonies, soaring orchestral arrangements, and second to none melodic sensibilities – not leaving any of the ever-growing musical ensemble empty-handed.

While they broadly encompass much of what the folk fraternity is doing elsewhere their sound is very distinctive and has an authentic northern touch, due in no small to the instantly recognizable and endearing Belfast brogue – the final and key ingredient making them unique and familiar at the same time and one of the most exciting prospects on this island.

Make up your own mind below.

Mp3: The Lowly Knights – Devotion

The Lowly Knights – Miracle

[The Hollow EP is out now | The Lowly Knights play Castlepalooza 31st July/1st August]

Video: Gorillaz ‘On Melancholy Hill’

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‘Melancholy Hill’ is the second single from Gorillaz fantastic album Plastic Beach (if you haven’t checked it out do so now). There’s been a lot of care and thought put into what is a pretty expansive video which also features cartoon versions of Snoop Dogg , De la Soul and a bizarre Popeye.

This has fast become a favourite of mine due in no small way to the superb performance on Jools Holland.

New Orbital ‘Don’t Stop Me’

Orbitals place in music history is without question (and I’m a big fan too) but news of new material from the Hartnell brothers for the first time in some years was greeted with some apprehension here. This was mainly because of some sub-par records post Middle of the Road and a severely lacklustre performance at Electric Picnic following their re-union which felt hugely dated, static, lethargic and left an overarching feeling this was a simple exercise in nostalgia, maybe they should left well alone. For the sake of balance perhaps they were just rusty after a number of years out.

What of the new stuff?

On hearing ‘Don’t Stop Me’ (Yes it’s just one track) it appears they’ve stuck with their trademark trancey experimental synths which you’d expect, fused with samples from Buggles ‘Video Killed the Radiostar’ (I think) and many of the characteristics of ‘modern’ electro and house, bringing it nicely up to date. It’s not groundbreaking stuff but certainly a very welcome development.

Orbital – Don’t Stop Me

Tame Impala ‘Innerspeaker’

Hardly synonymous with warm fuzzy psychedelia, Australia, more noted for exuberant and over the top rock n roll has had a plethora of exports only too eager to go down this well-traveled route. Things may be about to change with the arrival of Tame Impala’s dazzling debut Innerspeaker.

On a first listen the expansive nature can be slightly overwhelming especially the vast nods of respect to past greats from 60’s Britpop to American psychedelia giving it a slightly vintage feel yet it still manages to remain fresh, vibrant and alive; no mean feat at all. For the most part the album is a beautiful blend of sunshine vibes, meandering melodic sensibilities (akin to The Bees) and raw fuzzy hooks and riffs, all perfectly complemented by Kevin Parkers eerie vocals meeting every melodic turn or rhythmic surge.

The overarching cohesiveness of this album demonstrates a real sense of control throughout. It avoids unneeded tangents or self-indulgence and other pitfalls which would obstruct the albums grander. This record couldn’t have been released at a better time, the perfect companion for sunshine filled summer days (and nights).

Mp3: Tame Impala – Desire Be, Desire Go

Tame Impala – Lucidity

Weekly Playlist: Nicolas Jaar, Casiokids, Unkle, Tame Impala…….

A slightly sparse weekly roundup of tracks returns for your aural pleasure.

Mp3: Nicolas JaarLove Teacher

19-year-old Nicolas Jaar is apparently creating a bit of a stir across the water in the US. It’s easy to see why with this superbly fresh, subtle and yes, brilliant tune – really looking forward to hearing more from this guy.

Mp3: Tame ImpalaSolitude is Bliss (Mickey Moonlight Remix)

Tame Impala’s debut album has been one of the most enjoyable records so far this year, it will of course get some further attention later but until then there is this excellent Mickey Moonlight remix to whet the appetite.

Mp3: CasiokidsFinn Bikkjen

Not a new one by any stretch of the imagination from the beautifully named Norwegian electro-troupe that is Casiokids. absolutely loved this one last summer and yes you guessed it, love it this summer – best get this one spinning while the weather lasts.

Unkle – Follow Me Down (The Golden Filter Remix)

Unkle’s latest album Where Did The Night Fall is unsurprisingly impressive as is the original of this tune but remixes are always welcome here and The Golden Filter give it a dark disco twist.

Audio Bullys – Kiss The Sky (RuN RiOT Remix)

Audio Bullys ‘Kiss The Sky’ gets the RuN RiOT treatment, the London-based producer and musician has crafted a barnstorming high-octane remix brimming with energy and attitude.

LCD Soundsystem – You Wanted A Hit (Soulwax Remix)

Time to keep it short and sweet for once.

It’s not often a remix deserves a post all to itself but Soulwax have popped up with a heavy hitting remix of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘You Wanted A Hit’. It borrows a little bit of musical inspiration from Air’s ‘Sexy Boy’ it seems – proving why they’re one of the best in the business a perfect soundtrack to a sunny Saturday afternoon.

LCD Soundsystem – You Wanted A Hit (Soulwax Remix)