Playlist: TV On The Radio ATP, May 11 2013

May 14, 2013

ATP logo

Lucky me got to play records, one after another, at the TV On The Radio-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties weekender of May 10-12.

I kept it pretty ‘party’ focused. What with it being midnight ’til 2am, and the day having seen acts like Spank Rock (and Amanda Blank) and El-P bring the rhymes with no little success, it was essentially a pop(ish)-minded Dive Slow set. (Speaking of which, the next Dive Slow is June 21 at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton.)

The set was as follows. Plenty of people danced. Some people fell over.

De La Soul – A Rolling Skating Jam…
Jungle Brothers – Doin Our Own Dang
Busta Rhymes – Whoo Ha (Jey Dee remix)
Masta Ace – Sittin On Chrome (Ummah remix)
J Dilla – Baby
9th Wonder – Now I’m Being Cool
Dr Octagon – Blue Flowers
Company Flow – 8 Steps To Perfection
Wu-Tang Clan – CREAM
Nas – It Ain’t Hard To Tell
Beastie Boys – Intergalactic (KMD blend)
M.I.A. – Bad Girls (remix w/ Missy Elliott and Rye Rye)
Missy Elliott – Get Ur Freak On
Angel Haze – Werkin’ Girls
Nikki D – Daddy’s Little Girl
Jay-Z – Hard Knock Life
Jay-Z/Kanye West – N In Paris
Kanye West – Gold Digger
EPMD – Gold Digger
Eric B and Rakim – I Know You Got Soul
Run-DMC – It’s Tricky
LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out
A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It?
Biz Markie – Just A Friend
Pharoahe Monch – Simon Says
Notorious BIG – Juicy
Dr Dre – Still DRE
Snoop Dogg – Who Am I?
Warren G/Nate Dogg – Regulate
Luniz – I Got Five On It
R Kelly – Ignition (remix)

Thanks for dancing. (If you want a set similar to this, for whatever reason, I’m on Twitter.)

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MD’s Zero Fanfare Top 40 Albums Of 2011

November 17, 2011

Are they in order, from 1 to 40? Perhaps 40 to 1? Yes, no… who cares. Anyway, 40 thoroughly good albums from the year that isn’t quite over (but let’s be fair, there’s nothing but X Factor afterbirth between now and the New Year).

– – –

Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place
Katy B – On a Mission
Kuedo – Severant
The Horrors – Skying
Polinski – Labyrinths
Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
Com Truise – Galactic Melt
Björk – Biophilia
9th Wonder – The Wonder Years
True Widow – As High as the Highest Heavens…
Wild Beasts – Smother
Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
Dark Dark Dark – Wild Go
Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact
A Winged Victory for the Sullen – A Winged Victory for the Sullen
FaltyDL – You Stand Uncertain
Mastodon – The Hunter
The Men – Leave Home
The Weeknd – House of Balloons
Other Lives – Tamer Animals
Three Trapped Tigers – Route One or Die
Modeselektor – Moneytown
Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
SBTRKT – SBTRKT
Braids – Native Speaker
Rustie – Glass Swords
Dels – Gob
Iceage – New Brigade
Childish Gambino – CAMP
Machinedrum – Room(s)
Martyn – Ghost People
Azari & III – Azari & III
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – We’re New Here
Emika – Emika
Blanck Mass – Blanck Mass
Nils Frahm – Felt
Drake – Take Care
Kode9 & The Spaceape – Black Sun

Note: Esben and the Witch’s Violet Cries is disqualified from this list because they’re terrible, terrible people. Nah. But I do co-manage them. And that sort of nepotism just ain’t cool.

– – –

Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place

Katy B – Broken Record

Kuedo – Scissors

The Horrors – Still Life

Polinski – Stitches


Notes from the Mercury Prize

September 7, 2011

By now, you’ll know that PJ Harvey has become the first artist to win the Mercury Prize for a second time, her Let England Shake the pick of the shortlisted 12 at last night’s awards do in London. (Read a review of the album on the BBC, here.) I was at the awards – here’s how it went down, from where I was standing. (Times are estimates only – these are my observations and opinions only, not those of the BBC!)

19.00 – In. No fizz yet. Sort it out, Mercurys.

19.04 – Jools is saying something. Presumably about music. It’s hard to tell as the suits clink their glasses across the tables below us – us being the press scumbags and hangers-on assembled on the balcony. I could really do with a drink.

19.05 – Ghostpoet’s in the building. He’s wearing his trademark pork pie hat indoors. My mum, she wouldn’t like that. Thinks it’s rude to wear a hat indoors.

19.07 – Tinie Tempah is the first performer of the night. “The one and only Tinie Tempah,” announces Jools, ramming his face between the cheeks of a nominated artist for the first time tonight. Thank fuck he’s the one and only, think several of the assembled onlookers. (Okay, perhaps just me.) Mr Tempah plays a medley of his chart hits. Few in the room seem to care. This man is not going home with the Mercury.

19.11 – Anna Calvi now. Like Tempah (and, later, Katy B) she’s dressed in black and red. Danger colours, those. Perhaps we’re in for a fiery performance. Or, perhaps, she’ll just shout for a bit while that friend of hers manhandles a squeezy wheezy box. I’ve never got the fuss surrounding Calvi – an adequate guitarist with some okay songs, but nothing more to these ears. And it must be weird for her tonight, performing in the shadow of PJ Harvey – an artist who’s done what Calvi’s doing for the past 20 years or so, and much better. Calvi’s album has no chance of winning.

19.15 – Jools runs us through all of the nominated albums. Everything is “fantastic” or “wonderful”, of course – this is the way of Jools. Still, he’s a national treasure, the sole televisual window onto the wider musical world for a large percentage of the British public, so I can forgive the sycophancy (and besides, if he’s not going to say these albums and artists are great, who is?). The biggest cheers seem to be for Katy B and Ghostpoet. But that might just be because of where I’m stood.

19.16 – Gwilym Simcock plays. His jazz face, to borrow from a credit card provider that isn’t sponsoring tonight’s proceedings, is priceless. He’s a very talented pianist, but really: his album’s never had a chance of winning, which begs the question of why it’s in the running. There have been better jazz albums in the last 12 months. If you must pick a ‘token’ jazz entry, at least make it one by an outfit with rather more fire in its collective belly. Honestly, this is like riding in a lift…

19.18 – …Until Simcock climbs inside his piano and starts beating it. That makes the room go up. But it might just be sympathy applause – thanks for coming, chap; see you… well, never.

19.28 – After a pause, PJ plays. She’s good, this girl. She’ll do well. A no-frills performance, but she’s an artist with nothing to prove at this stage of her career.

19.34 – King Creosote – who, later, will apparently fall into a swimming pool fully suited – plays, alongside Jon Hopkins on piano. It’s a beautiful moment; the room falls still. That pair had their odds slashed earlier in the day. A sign of success to come? Perhaps – but remember this thing isn’t decided until after these performances, when the judging panel retires to shout at each other until they reach a verdict. I wonder if all of them are ever really happy with the outcome?

19.40 – Metronomy now, with The Bay. Good choice. Good performance. Nice to see a band put a little heart into their live showing tonight. Joseph Mount encourages us to visit Devon. I have done, sir, several times. Paignton Zoo and I, we get along fine. He makes the audience laugh, which is nice. It’s be nicer still if the band’s album, The English Riviera, was to win… but a hunch says it won’t.

19.44 – When does the England match kick off?

19.45 – Oh, about now. Thanks.

19.47 – Nice chat with Gbenga from Metronomy. Apparently Lauren Laverne, who’s here tonight presenting for the BBC, fought for their album to be in the shortlist. Zane Lowe didn’t like it, he tells me. Zane, Zane… Bad form.

19.50 – Katy B. She’s good. Great performance of On a Mission. Beside me, the live-blogger fellow from The Quietus announces that she’s his pick for tonight; later, when we’re surrounded by guys and gals from Rinse (who ‘comically’ threaten to mug us), we’ll both say we’re rooting for her. She seems genuinely pleased to be part of this – as a young artist with her first album just released, I guess everything’s still an adventure for her. She’ll learn, in time. Someone tweets that Polly Jean has the best nose in rock; I counter with Katy B has the best dimples in pop. She does though. Treasures, those.

19.57 – James Blake is on. Somewhere in this noise there’s a song, I’m sure of it.

19.59 – I’m not so sure. He’s a tall lad, Mr Blake. I guess when your head’s all the way up there it’s hard to hear your mates, who are telling you: “James, put some songs on the album… James…? JAMES?! Oh, whatever… make a record that sounds like a Bon Iver remix LP.” Mr The Quietus loved his older stuff – might sound like a muso thing to say, but it’s true: Blake’s pre-album fare was much, much better than what makes up his eponymous debut. He won’t win.

20.00 – The audience seems to be in agreement. They might be quiet out of respect, like they were for King Kenny earlier. More likely they’re asleep, though.

20.07 – Ghostpoet is fantastic – loud, and loving every second of being here. Performance of the night (Cash and Carry Me Home, since you asked).

20.11 – News reaching us that Adele is not going to perform. She’s here, though.

20.15 – Grab a word with Ghostpoet. He seems thrilled to be part of this, and is drinking it in. I wish him the best – it’d be bloody fantastic if his LP, Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam, won this thing. As someone who has only just quit his nine-to-five to focus on his music, that £20,000 will go a long way. He calls me ‘Mr Diver’ too, which I like. (It’s my name, but still.)

20.19 – We’re watching a performance of Rolling in the Deep on the screens. She can sing, this Adele girl. Watch out for her. Bright future, etc.

20.20 – Adele takes to the stage to make a thank-you speech and pick up her one-of-the-final-12 trophies/toilet brushes. She makes people laugh, and snorts a little herself. She’s great, just like one of us. Only absolutely loaded.

20.24 – Everything Everything are dressed like Ghostbusters but aren’t even as entertaining as the second Ghostbusters movie – and that really sagged in places.

20.30 – And now it’s Elbow. Somehow I’ve forgotten about Elbow being here – probably because Build a Rocket Boys! is so utterly underwhelming. Why’s it in the final 12? Because Guy Garvey is a Really Nice Man, that’s why. Can’t be on the strength of the LP in question – if so, clearly the panel has listened to 10 albums all year and then picked two acts on the strength of previous collections. (I might be referring to Adele here – 21 is decent, no doubt, but 6/10 decent rather than 9/10 amazing.)

20.34 – Lippy Kids is the most boring song of 2011.

20.36 – Jools arrives on stage to bury himself up Garvey’s arse. Says something about how we all love Elbow. No, Jools, we don’t. Some of us can’t work out why they’re here in the place of many other more worthy outfits. But, hell, that Guy fella is a smashing chap. Struggles to stand up straight while performing, though. He might want to see someone about that.

20.45 – In the pub. Second half of the England vs Wales match is as dull as Everything Everything were a few minutes ago.

22.02 – Back in the building. Lauren’s over there, speaking to camera. She’s with the chap who presents the 6 Music breakfast show, Sean Keaveny. That’s the same Sean Keaveny who’s failed to get the name of this award correct on his show for the past few weeks/months. An expert, then.

22.05 – Realise how weird it must be for the artists tonight, playing to a room where the majority of people assembled don’t want them to do well. They might like their records, and go to their shows elsewhere – but tonight they’re rooting for a rival.

22.09 – Another music journalist tweets simply: “Fuck Off Elbow.” To the point.

22.26 – And the winner is…

22.26.08 – PJ Harvey! Unprecedented second win for Peej. I’d love to say I’m happy with her win, but… Well, it’s a bit safe, isn’t it? An established artist triumphs again. Might have been nice to see the Mercury celebrate emerging talent a little more – but all of the shortlisted 12 benefit from this exposure, so there are no losers in the room tonight. Plus, PJ is an awesome artist whose catalogue is immense. Let England Shake is an LP I’ve not personally clicked with, but I recognise the love for it from other quarters. Many a friend has told me that it’s the best album of 2011, so…

22.32 – Right, I’m off to the pub for last orders. See ya, the #mercuryprize.

– – –

Watch performances from the night, and interviews and the like, on the BBC Music Showcase pages.

Read reviews of all the nominated albums via the BBC Music Blog.


Forgotten Noughties #8: Meet Me in St Louis, Variations on Swing

July 7, 2011

Meet Me in St Louis Variations on Swing

Meet Me in St Louis
Variations on Swing
Big Scary Monsters, 2007

There will be those of you out there who haven’t forgotten this at all – it may even be a favourite to this day. I know that I frequently return to it. But to many Meet Me in St Louis were just a name on a supporting bill, an act that hit its natural ceiling of potential and was never likely to have proceeded further. This album, to these ears, suggests that’s far from the case (and that such observers are/were ignorant dolts). Ostensibly post-hardcore – in so much as its cues can be traced to a handful of turn-of-the-millennium emo bands and the jazz-influenced playfulness of the likes of Spy vs Spy, not to mention the ferocious right-angles riffery of At the Drive-In – it’s an album that dares where so few of its ilk actually did, despite so much hollow boasting. Word was (from the band, at the time) that its producer, Alex Newport, was forced to play catch-up with the band (or simply leave them to it, and nod approvingly), as their chosen timings were too much for the Grammy-nominated fellow to process. And sure enough, at several points this record sounds seconds away from collapse, its players at the very edge of their abilities; cohesion is stretched to near breaking-point, yet somehow the five musicians keep everything under relative control. Ambition is evident from the album’s song titles, most of which refer to films and contain enough twists and turns to fill a dozen Hollywood flicks. There are moments of surprise, touches of tenderness, and everything’s overshadowed by the feeling that this band is giving absolutely fucking everything to the cause. But, like so many bands with the widest horizons before them, relationships within the camp weren’t as perfect as they could be, and vocalist Toby Hayes departed just weeks after this album’s release. The band eventually signed off for good in early 2008. Members have since featured in acts including Colour, Tropics and Shoes and Socks Off.

All We Need Is a Little Energon, and a Lot of Luck

The Torso Has Been Severed In Mid-Thorax