A new night what I am playing records at – it’ll probably be OK.

March 27, 2013

Brighton pals. I’m starting – with Daniel Copeman – a new night. 4/4ish is what it’s called. Basically it’s taking the fun end of electro that gets played at my Dive Slow* nights in the Sticky Mike’s bar, and transplanting them into a dancefloor-friendly set to echo around the Green Door Store.

Dan’s in America right now, but I’ll be sort of previewing the ‘vibe’ of the night at the Green Door on April 11 – just in the bar. Free entry, so if yr at a loose end on a Thursday night, come have a gander. Probably gonna run about 11pm-2am ish. ISH is the term of note.

Expect: Modeselektor, LCD Soundsystem, Bonobo, Slugabed, Cosmin TRG, Zomby, Flying Lotus, Sigha, Errors, Starkey, Jamie xx, John Talabot, Lusine, Hot Chip, SBTRKT, Matthew Dear, Machinedrum, Caribou, Space Dimension Controller, Mala, Lone, Venetian Snares, Four Tet, Squarepusher, Fuck Buttons, Patten, remixes and that…

More info sometime in the FUTURE. We’ll start properly in June.

(* The next one of these being a DJ-only night on April 19th, then a live-bands-too, with Ghosting Season, Pandr Eyez and guest DJ Olugbenga, on May 10th. Both are free-entry events at Sticky Mike’s.)


BBC Album Reviews: Some of the Best, part two

March 26, 2013

Continuing on from yesterday’s first ten picks, here’s ten more standout examples of music reviewing on the BBC.

(Nb these are all from the period I edited the section – summer 2009 until the service’s cancellation this week. Prior to my arrival, the service was run by Somethin’ Else, under the guidance of a fine chap by the name of Chris Jones. A skilled writer – I’d have liked to have kept him amongst my contributors, but it didn’t work out – Chris has a number of BBC reviews to his name (568 to be precise). The quality control under SE was inconsistent, though, as evidenced by exploring the reviews archive. The company makes great radio – Now Playing, Gilles Peterson, Mayo and Kermode, Jazz on 3 – but running this service wasn’t quite its forte.)

Lovely reviews, below…

Fraser McAlpine reviews Elbow’s Build a Rocket Boys!
“There isn’t even a palpable air of triumph to proceedings; no more so than usual, anyway. Elbow are a classier act that that. They do what they’ve always done: construct billowing repetitive structures out of tightly-controlled ideas – twisty guitars, razor-bass, clockwork piano, shakes and rattles and finger-clicks – and then invite a bearlike man with a helium roar to fill them with his scuffed and maudlin love letters.”

Greg Moffitt reviews Hawkwind’s Blood of the Earth
“Occasional Hawkwind collaborator and all-round synth genius Tim Blake is the one weaving the electronic fabric which holds the album together, and his flourishes span from ethereal and entrancing to sinister and unsettling with masterful ease. It’s just a question of balance. There’s not a whole lotta rock. None of the three-chord warp drive needed to take this into orbit. Certainly the eerie atmospheres that the band once conjured like so many cosmic wizards are nowhere to be seen or heard…”

Hari Ashurst reviews Julia Holter’s Ekstasis
“Holter balances her mostly zoned-out atmospheres with a couple of moments of ecstatic release. The biggest of these is In the Same Room – the most conventional and striking moment on the album. For the first three minutes the song unfurls just like a pop song. Electronic beats push a steady momentum while Holter playfully darts around two of the record’s strongest hooks. Small details gather and drive towards a climax that doesn’t quite happen – rather, the song ebbs and slips dreamily back into the pretty soundscapes that characterise the rest of Ekstasis.”

Andrew Mueller reviews Giant Sand’s Blurry Blue Mountain
“Blurry Blue Mountain is a warm, unassuming album, the kind of record made by someone long past trying to impress anybody – which, as is the perverse way of these things, makes it all the more impressive. Gelb’s songs are, as ever, adroitly trimmed to the limitations of his voice, whether the Tom Waits-ish lament Chunk of Coal, the hungover duet with Lonna Kelley on Lucky Star Love, or the half-spoken Ride the Rail, a romp through the legend of the Molly Maguires, which recalls the modern historical narratives of Corb Lund and Patterson Hood.”

Everett True reviews The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream
“Whereas before, The Black Angels’ albums – great as they were – were mostly centred around one incredible track (most noticeably The First Vietnamese War from the 2006 debut album Passover), Phosphene Dream stuns by its quality of depth. In Bad Vibrations, the balls-out River of Blood, Haunting at 1300 McKinley and several others, The Black Angels have written a series of rock anthems to match both the ghosts of the past and tribal-leaders of the present. The title is a reference to PH3, a toxic and explosive gas. It’s suitable, trust me.”

Laura Barton reviews Sharon Van Etten’s Epic
“There is something special about Van Etten’s voice. It is neither the sort of fey, delicate wisp nor the sour, brittle twist we have come to expect from female folk singers; there is a weight and a gravel to it, evocative of She Keeps Bees or early Cat Power. It’s nice to hear a female artist singing so much from the belly, even, at times, with a stirring kind of anger – as in the rollicking Peace Signs. But even elsewhere, on the country lament of Save Yourself, for instance, or the free-floating haze of DsharpGg, there is always a sense of strength to Van Etten, something strong-boned and muscular, which marks her out from her contemporaries.”

Lloyd Bradley reviews Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of
“The album is all about love in its many manifestations: joy (To Zion and Nothing Even Matters); pain (I Used to Love Him); disappointment (Doo Wop and Lost Ones); and optimism (Can’t Take My Eyes Off You). Sometimes it’s intensely personal (Ex-Factor), or takes a wider perspective (Everything Is Everything and Every Ghetto, Every City), or might even be an attack on her former bandmates (Superstar and Forgive Them Father). In every case, though, there’s an astuteness and sensitivity disproving the notion that hip hop audiences have only two speeds – radical or licentious. Hill’s poetry assumes a liberating intelligence among her listeners, to be repaid as they follow her unflinchingly into some of the more intimate aspects of her life.”

Ian Wade reviews The 2 Bears’ Be Strong
“Touches of skastep (a genre I’ve just invented) on Heart of the Congos, and country on Time in Mind, guarantee proceedings are never monotonous; these tangents also provide the pair’s considerable songwriting chops with a nice stretch. The utopian existence of the disco is but a fleeting temporary state, and so beneath the optimistic ‘dance your cares away’ vibe there’s also an element of the real world outside the club: Work acknowledges that times are tough, and while you have big dreams you need to actually, er, work at them.”

John Doran reviews Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing
“All of her covers are astutely chosen; Bill Withers’ Use Me and Flash and the Pan’s Walking in the Rain are canny reworkings and, as with all good covers, the style in which they are reworked becomes a statement in itself… The album’s undoubted centrepiece is an original composition and a work of cocksure funk disco genius. Pull Up to the Bumper remains a bona-fide dancefloor filler and one powered by a delicious irony at that. Jones’ fanbase at the time was mainly comprised of white gay men, who idolised this chiselled, masculine woman who sang unashamedly and quite obviously about the joys of an, ahem, alternative sexual practice for her, that wasn’t so alternative for them.”

Kev Kharas reviews The Fall’s Your Future Our Clutter
“You don’t last as long as The Fall have without learning a few things. Things like how many times you have to play the same riff before it becomes invincible, and how long you have to spend barking at people before they start treating you like a hero. Mark E. Smith is 371 in dog years. He has been barking forever, and, as The Fall enter their 34th year with their 28th studio album, a hero many times over: looping in and out of critical approval as endlessly as the snarling, nagging guitars that have underpinned his scornful non-sequiturs for decades.”

More BBC album reviews, here.

BBC Album Reviews: Some of the Best, part one

March 25, 2013

bbc logo

So I figured, what with the service’s imminent closure, I’d post a few of my favourite reviews to have run on the BBC Album Reviews pages since the summer of 2009.

I say “part one” as it’s been a real treat to run so much high-quality content these past weeks, months and years that to not dive into the archive again for another selection would be doing myself a disservice, not to mention the team of contributors.

I haven’t thought long and hard about the below picks, either – I’ve just scanned the pages, little lights going off as I recall standout examples of critical thoughts (turned into compelling copy).

But if something piques your own interest from the below, click through and have a rummage yourself. I think you’ll agree that a bloody fine job’s been done.

Jude Rogers reviews Paul Weller’s Sonik Kicks
“Thirty years ago, Paul Weller was number one. The Jam’s A Town Called Malice spent three weeks at the top of the charts, its Motown bassline bustling, its finger clicks rustling. Watch its video now, and the 23-year-old at the middle of it has hardly changed in some ways. His Woking vowels are still ‘ow’s-yer-father; the haircut’s still cockatoo-daft. But he sings a line in its first verse that’s practically become his motto: ‘Stop apologising for the things you’ve never done, because time is short and life is cruel, and it’s up to us to change.'”

Adam Kennedy reviews Aesop Rock’s Skelethon
“It’s a difficult listen, no doubt. But just when Skelethon appears to be drifting towards a less-than-lapel-grabbing conclusion, closing confessional Gopher Guts pulls an astonishing passage from nowhere. It’s built on possibly the most affectingly honest lines Aesop has ever delivered: ‘I have been completely unable to maintain any semblance of relationship on any level / I have been a bastard to the people who have actively attempted to deliver me from peril.'”

Alex Deller reviews Goat’s World Music
“Basslines hulk and lurk, goading you pushily towards the dancefloor while psychotropic guitar parts conjure impossible colours and chanted, voice-as-instrument ululations score a deep path through your subconscious despite only one word in 50 ever actually making sense. Dip in at any point and you’re bound to hit gold, whether you light upon the cartwheel riffing of opener Diarabi, the glorious, organ-dappled funk of Disco Fever or the primal rattle and grunt of the beautiful but far-too-short Run to Your Mama.”

Barney Hoskyns reviews Foreigner’s Can’t Slow Down
“Like so many veteran rock bands, Foreigner is now little more than a trademark owned by its British founder Mick Jones. Fifteen years after their last album release, Jones has cobbled together a unit of proficient hacks to craft a ghastly collection of songs that might as well have been written by a computer programme. Pulsing rhythms, glistening guitar arpeggios, hideously clichéd lyrics and heroically angsty vocals: they’re all here in abundance, tailor-made for future X Factor contenders.”

Paul Lester reviews Drake’s Thank Me Later
“Drake is the Vampire Weekend of rap – he ticks all the wrong boxes, especially for a milieu that privileges poverty and strife. He’s a handsome 23-year-old ex-actor from an affluent background who has effortlessly achieved even greater wealth via music that utterly refuses to flaunt its street-tough credentials. More heinous still, Thank Me Later is virtually a concept album about the loneliness and lovelessness of the successful celebrity, a sort of sequel to Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak, only more audaciously dolorous because he’s only just started. In fact, as morose meditations on the miseries of fame go, it comes across like a rap version of Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories or Deconstructing Harry.”

Spencer Grady reviews Oneohtrix Point Never’s Replica
“Replica sees Lopatin stray from his traditional templates, making occasional forays onto the dancefloor, shackling his amorphous ambient tides to the tyranny of the beat. Sleep Dealer and Nassau sound like The Field hitting hiccup hi-scores with the snooze function on, while Up forges a natural alliance between Muslimgauze’s souk-saturated rhythms and Cut Hands’ abrasive appropriation of Congolese percussion.”

Chris Roberts reviews Dexys’ One Day I’m Going to Soar
“A quarter-century on from the last Dexys Midnight Runners album Don’t Stand Me Down (mocked upon release, now recognised as a work of genius), Dexys (so named because, says Kevin Rowland, ‘It’s the same, but also not the same’) return. Recent live shows induced collective rapture in audiences. Can the ‘comeback’ album possibly live up to expectations? It can. It certainly can… There is so much personality, poetry, vulnerability and resilience here that most other records sound like dry runs by comparison. Dexys are back with wisdom and wings. Some of us never doubted.”

David Quantick reviews Buzzcocks’ Another Music in a Different Kitchen
“Upgrading and referencing the Spiral Scratch EP’s Boredom as bookends to the whole thing, Another Music… mixed Shelley’s remakes of Devoto lyrics (Fast Cars being a standout) with new brilliance like I Don’t Mind. Diggle added one of Buzzcocks’ greatest songs, the motorik genius of Autonomy. And the whole thing finales with punk’s greatest end-of-side-two track, the epic Moving Away From the Pulsebeat, which still sounds like nothing else ever recorded. It’s my favourite album ever; buy it and find out why.”

Daniel Ross reviews Rachel Zeffira’s The Deserters
“Canadian Zeffira has a uniquely simplistic and powerful melodic knack which satisfies the head, but to massage the heart she has a real aptitude for arrangements. Oscillating strings, reeds and flutes are used with invention throughout, on the chug of Break the Spell and in the closing organ expanse of Goodbye Divine – all evidence that Zeffira is skipping wildly ahead of the pack. The Deserters is unequivocally demanding of your attention, as accomplished as it is tummy-meltingly wonderful to listen to.”

James Skinner reviews Janelle Monáe’s The ArchAndroid
“Monáe and her Wondaland collective span styles and epochs seamlessly over these 18 tracks, touching on everything from fantasia strings to psychedelic trad-folk, cabaret jazz to traditional R’n’B; heck, even goth and Eurotrance get a look in… Across the breadth of the record, songs and icons are recalled and reinvented, flickering like ghosts you recognise but can’t quite place; Monáe’s skill is to fashion them into something bordering indefinable. She is an easy, natural star, and The ArchAndroid is a kaleidoscopic, breathless run through the genres and eras that have inspired her.”

That’ll do, for now.

Playlist: Dive Slow, March 15, 2013

March 18, 2013

Nosaj Thing

If there’s one thing that this playlist teaches us, it’s don’t bow to request pressure. At the third – maybe – time of asking, I agreed to play a track I’d never usually drop into a set; especially not one that I’m selling as containing fare from Kuedo to Kanye. (You know what I mean.)

So next time – next time being April 19 (Facebook event link, that is) – don’t ask me for a thing. As not asking me means you can’t be disappointed. Thanks.

Lapalux – IAMSYS (Tape Intro)
Nosaj Thing (pictured) – Eclipse/Blue
Bonobo feat Erykah Badu – Heaven for the Sinner
Cooly G – Trouble
FaltyDL- Gospel of Opal
FaltyDL – Straight + Arrow (Gold Panda remix)
Gold Panda – Trust
Letherette – After Dawn
Slugabed – Sex
Spoek Mathambo – Control
SBTRKT – Right Place
Radiohead – Lotus Flower (SBTRKT remix)
Thom Yorke – Harrowdown Hill (The Bug remix)
Dalia Black – Fuck a Rap Song
Death Grips – Blackjack
42ghosts – Culture Shock
The Underachievers – Gold Soul Theory
Joey Bada$$ – Survival Tactics
DyMe-A-DuZiN – Swank Sinatra
Heems – Tell Me
Childish Gambino feat RZA – American Royalty
Quakers – Fitta Happier
Flatbush Zombies – Intro
Schoolboy Q – Raymond 1969
Kendrick Lamar feat Dr Dre – The Recipe
Rick Ross feat Dr Dre and Jay-Z – 3 Kings
Drake feat Rick Ross – Lord Knows
Pusha T feat Rick Ross – Millions
Lil Wayne – A Milli
Tyler, the Creator – Yonkers
Hodgy Beats – Bullshittin’
Freddie Gibbs feat Krayzie Bone/SpaceGhostPurrp – Kush Cloud
Kool AD feat Main Attrakionz – Oooh
Main Attrakionz – Bossalinis and Foolyiones
A$AP Rocky feat Main Attrakionz – Leaf
Le1f – Psy Lock
Kilo Kish – Turquoise
Hint ft T-Fly – Aliens Enter
Angel Haze – New York
Radiohead – Bloom (Jamie xx remix)
Gil Scott-Heron/Jamie xx – NY is Killing Me
James Blake – CMYK
Lana Del Rey – Video Games (Jamie Woon remix)
Terry Urban – Wrong Game (Lana Del Rey/Notorious BIG)
Busta Rhymes – Woo Ha! Got You All In Check (Jay Dee Bounce remix)
Masta Ace – Sittin’ on Chrome (Ummah remix)
The Pharcyde – Runnin’ (Philippians remix)
Beastie Boys/Rage Against the Machine – Check the Testimony
Beastie Boys – Intergalactic (KMD blend)
42ghosts – Lord of the Game
Two Fingers – Bad Girl (The Bug remix)
M.I.A. feat Missy Elliott and Rye Rye – Bad Girls (remix)
TNGHT – Buggin’
Nas – Life’s a Bitch (Hudson Mohawke blend)
J Dilla – Baby

– – –

Handover to Daniel Copeman of Esben and the Witch fame for a few joints…

Death Grips – Get Got
Cadence Weapon – Conditioning
MOP – Ante Up (9th Wonder blend)
Dr Dre feat Snoop Dogg etc – The Next Episode
Dr Dre feat Snoop Dogg etc vs Cream – White Episode (Nasty P mix)
Eminem feat Dr Dre – Guilty Conscience
Wiz Khalifa – Black & Yellow
Lil Wayne feat Eminem – Drop the World

– – –

Beyoncé – Single Ladies
Jay-Z/Jimi Hendrix – A Watchtower Problem (Nasty P mix)
Kanye West/Aretha Franklin – Feelin’ Diamonds (Nasty P mix)
Kanye West and Jay-Z – N in Paris
Schoolboy Q – Nightmare on Figg Street
A$AP Rocky – LVL
Flatbush Zombies – Thug Waffle
Big KRIT – Country Rap Tunes
Big Boi – In the A
OutKast – Ms Jackson
Joey Bada$$ – World Domination
Madvillian – Accordion
JJ DOOM – Winter Blues
DOOM feat Tony Starks – Angelz
CALVIN HARRIS AND RIHANNA – WE FOUND LOVE (yeah, request this and leave, y’idjut)
Kanye West feat Rihanna et al – All of the Lights
Pharrell feat Jay-Z – Frontin’
N*E*R*D – Lapdance
Missy Elliott – Get Ur Freak On
Amerie – 1 Thing
Mariah Carey feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Fantasy
Ol’ Dirty Bastard feat Kelis – Got Your Money
Kelis – Milkshake
Kilo Kish – IOU
Chlidish Gambino feat Danny Brown – Toxic
Danny Brown – Grown Up
Paul White feat Danny Brown – One Of Life’s Pleasures
J Dilla – So Far To Go
J Rocc – Stay Fresh
House Shoes – Crazy
9th Wonder – Piranhas
Oddisee – Another’s Grind
Nas – The Don
Nas – It Ain’t Hard to tell
Company Flow – 8 Steps to Perfection
El-P feat Trent Reznor – Flyentology
R Kelly – Ignition (remix)
Warren G / Nate Dogg – Regulate
The Pharcyde – Passing Me By (Hot Chip remix)
Shlohmo feat How to Dress Well – Don’t Say No
Frank Ocean feat André 3000 and Big Boi – Pink Matter

Uh. Rihanna. Really ruined my mojo. Fought hard to bring it back to Anything Sensible.

Next Dive Slow: April 19, at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton. Free entry, 9pm ’til about 3am. Then in May, on the 10th, something a bit… special.

Tweet me shit.