Wednesday, 29 July 2009

New Music : Ross D / Lou Barlow / Kids At The Bar / Photomachine

From Philadelphia but now based out of New York comes Drum and Bass producer Ross D, who in September will release his debut album "Musical D-Lite" through Playloop Records. "215" is an uplifting piece of D+B that is hard to ignore especially when kicking back in the sun with some brews (what sun you say!?). I expect big things from the full length album which comes out physically on September 8th, but is already available digitally through the usual outlets. Ross D Myspace

Previously with Dinosaur Jr and Sebadoh, Lou Barlow returns after a four year break from his last album "Emoh" with his new one "Goodnight Unknown". There is great power in his work, not only coming from his vocals but also from the clever arrangement used particularly between the drums and guitars. The album will be released on October 5th through Domino Records. Lou Barlow website

"Walking On A Dream" seems to have been remixed by everyone and their Gran in the last year, but when its done to the quality that Kids At The Bar have produced its hard to ignore. Straight away the tempo is high, and yet it's a more chilled out affair than most remixes. KATB have done this remix right I reckon, utilising the best of the original and not changed things too much. What's left is a chilled out Summer banger that will have you raving. Kids At The Bar Myspace

Santogold made one of my favourite albums last year with her self titled debut, so its a risky business when the material gets reworked. Thankfully Brixton based producer Photomachine has done a fine job, turning "Creator" into a carnival anthem, with plenty of steel drums and a rather large bassline which take the song to a different level, but still utilizes her wicked vocals. Photomachine Myspace

Sunday, 26 July 2009

EP Review : Alan Wilkis - Pink And Purple

If you haven’t heard Alan Wilkis before, listening to the first minute or so of his new EP, ‘Pink and Purple’ may leave you wondering if you’re about to sit through some retro genius or some God awful R’n’B. It doesn’t help that on the opening track Wilkis sings through a vocoder – the musical equivalent of having a moustache – 99% of the time it’s just plain wrong.

Thankfully, Wilkis pulls it off and it quickly becomes evident that this (six track) EP is more jagged, funky hip-hop than anything else. In fact, this record’s funk rating is through the roof; it sounds like the result of some mouth watering super-group comprising of Grand Master Flash, Calvin Harris, Justice and George Clinton. The tunes are so very phat, so very danceable and so very retro. Most of all, it’s impossible to not draw comparisons with Prince – And not when the purple one was wailing about diamonds and pearls, but when he was writing booming, head jerking bass lines during his ‘Controversy’ days.

The opening track ‘Snuggle Up to Nail Down’ has Prince stamped all over it, from the sexual lyrics to superbly raw and screeching guitar solo. All this is surrounded by samples that sound like they’ve been lifted from Paperboy on the ZX Spectrum. Second track 'N.I.C.E' raises the bar further; it’s phatter and funkier, if that was possible. Every box is ticked: A distorted bass line akin to a Roland 303 Bassline Generator, a brass section (think Spandau Ballet’s Chant No.1), a rap breakdown and genuinely soulful vocals. It’s so good I think I’m addicted. If this song doesn’t become a floor-filler within a year there is no justice in the world.

Yet, inevitably, the rest of this EP struggles to live up to the epic opening numbers. ‘Gotta Get You Back’ is good enough but two-dimensional, highlighting how Wilkis walks the fine line between glorious retro and characterless twee. Title track ‘Pink and Purple’ is much better; we’re back to the stomping bass lines, wailing guitar solos and another break-it-down-to-build-it-up section that Wilkis seems to do so well. ‘Dance With You’ is more of the same with a Scissor Sister’s chorus to boot and the closing song, ‘Time Machine’ departs from the rest of the release, hearing Wilkis slow it down to an almost epic ballad. Thing is, it reminds me a little too much of the Strollers advert from the 80s (‘Wonderful Life’ by Black if you’re wondering).

And this is the only real criticism I could level at this record. It seems to be so in love with being retro it’s full of samples and sounds that sometimes detract from quality of the songs. Try to listen to ‘Dance with You’ without being reminded of the 70s theme tune to Tomorrow’s World or even ‘N.I.C.E.’ without thinking of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It’s as if Wilkis has absorbed every retro-chic trick in the book from the last 30 years and unremittingly scattered them across these six songs, regardless of the results.

Thankfully, the majority of the time this approach works; there should be no debate that this latest offering from Wilkis is fantastic, regardless of its momentary irritations. Yet for those who dislike funk, I can imagine ‘Pink and Purple’ may be a turn off; it’s so barefaced in what it is that Wilkis may isolate almost a many people as he attracts. Nonetheless, if bands insist on doing the whole retro thang, Cut Copy and The Killers take note, they should take a leaf out of Wilkis’ book. He’s managed to take a tired and overdone genre, often considered gimmicky and made it sound fresh, original and damn well danceable.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Single Review : Girls - Solitude

At present, San Francisco band Girls are somewhat of an enigma. The songs they have scattered around the internet are as diverse as they are uncommon. At times, the music is shoegaze, with fuzzed up guitars, layers of sounds and low level feedback. At other times they’re folky, like an even quirkier Arcade fire, or a fragile and earnest Bright Eyes.

The b-side to their debut single 'Hellhole Ratrace' definitely falls into the latter category. Without a press release, it’s almost impossible to unpick 'Solitude'. I couldn’t even work out a definitive band line up. Their videos, reminiscent of the worst parts of an E4 Skins trailer where Urban Outfitters have seemingly thrown up over everyone, offer no clues to band membership. Is this band two guys or a collective of 35 fashionistas? Enigmatic indeed.

But never mind all this ambiguity, what is important is their music; and their music is extraordinary. ‘Solitude’ is a subtle, reverb drenched, song that’s crisp and poignant. With arpeggiated guitars akin to REM’sEverybody Hurts’, the tune sways through three and a half minutes of emotion in a way that the entire emo genre has failed to do. ‘Girls’ show with ease that less is indeed more.

Sounding at times like Procol Harum’sA Whiter Shade Of Pale’ or a verse in ‘Hey Jude’ (listen out for it) this song skilfully taps into that universal emotional vain that so many great tunes have done in the past. The vocals are clear and melancholy, yet the lyrics are without the usual hint self-pity that can often accompany a sad melody. The whole song is superbly bitter sweet.

An exceedingly impressive offering from ‘Girls’ - I suspect this will be the beginning of significant cult success for the band. So much so, it may be worth attending one of their UK gigs in October before everyone else does the same. Check their myspace ( for further info.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

New Music : Casio Kids / Johnny Foreigner / Dave Spoon

This brilliant Norwegian electro pop group release their latest single "Finn Bikkjen!" through the Moshi Moshi singles club on 3rd August. Their tunes are refreshingly upbeat and hook laden, and the fact their lyrics are often sung in their native tongue matters little. Catch them at various festivals in the UK this Summer most notably Bestival in September. Casio Kids

Birmingham three piece Johnny Foreigner have been around for a few years without neccessarily gaining the exposure their clear talents deserve. Hopefully the release of their second album "Grace And The Bigger Picture" on 26th October will change all that. Comparisons can be made with other poppy indie types such as Los Campesinos, The Wombats and Larkin. Johnny Foreigner

As part of BBC Radio 1's "In New DJ's We Trust" show, Dave Spoon is one of the most up and coming DJ's/Producers. In recent times we've picked up on his remixes of Dizzee's "Flex" and Killa Kela's "Built Like An Amplifier". Now he's transformed Just Jack's "Embers" into a fully fledged Dubstep monster, which when it drops is quite ear shattering. Turn it up! Dave Spoon

Thursday, 16 July 2009

New Music : The Requesters EP

The latest release from Moda Music is now out, a 4 track EP from The Requesters. You can buy the release through Beatport. Check out this track from said EP - MP3: The Requesters - Pianobytes. We also have a wicked mixtape from the guys for you to enjoy! - MP3: The Requesters - Summer Mixtape

Mooqee Vs Beatvandals - Back up
Ace of Clubs - Classid Four
Mike Snow - Animal (Fake Blood Rmx)
Cerrone - Je suis music (Armand Van Helden Rmx)
The Requesters - ???
Michael Jackson - They don't care about us
Dub Deluxe - Sex on Sax (Destroy Disco Big Bass Mix)
TLC - No Scrubs (Acapella)
Jokers of the scene - Baggy Bottom Boys
NAS - I Can (Acapella)
David Rubato - Institubes Express 999 (Bobmo Rmx)
Dj Fixx - Bass in your face
Opus III - It's a Fine Day (Acapella)
Destroy Disco - Fly or Bounce (Bart Bmore Rmx)
Lazy Lay - Float my Boat
Public Enemy - Bring the noise (Acapella)
Boys Noize - Jeffer
Sepalot - Go Get it (AC Slater Rmx)
The Requesters - F.U.N. (Demo)