Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Belly warming

Two ostensibly very different recent releases take traditional music forms and give them a modern twist, resulting in both cases in something wondrous.

Seth Lakeman has admirably resisted any attempt to divert him from the template he established on his Mercury Prize nominated second album Kitty Jay. New long-player Freedom Fields once again features traditional English folk instrumentation and lyrical content suffused with a modern indie/dance oriented attitude. And while there's nothing here with quite the impact of the title track of Kitty Jay, this is nevertheless an awesome album.

The Black Keys' mini album Chulahoma is not due for release until 1 May, but advance copies appeared online this week. The EP features covers of tracks by blues legend Junior Kimbrough, and its name is taken from Junior's home town. Their earlier albums never quite managed to win me over, but this is a different story. They tap into the spirit of the old bluesmen, but electrified in a way that is reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan at his best. Simply put, it is a work of genius.

Both albums give you something only the very best roots music can provide - a warm glow in the belly.

Seth Lakeman - Setting of the Sun [mp3]
Seth Lakeman - Riflemen of War [mp3]
The Black Keys - Have Mercy on Me [mp3]
The Black Keys - Meet Me in the City [mp3]

Normal service will be resumed...

By the look of things, all the files I had hosted on FileLodge have been suspended, so if you are wondering why none of the downloads work, there's your answer. Luckily there are still other options available, so all the newer files will be available (for a limited period) through YouSendIt.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

BAD news to cheer you up

STOP PRESS: Just after I wrote this article, Carbon/Silicon released a new 12" single on their website. I have uploaded the two tracks here with improved tags (full band name and titles):

Carbon/Silicon - The News [mp3]
Carbon/Silicon - Grow Up [mp3]

The time seems right for a reassessment of one of the most influential British bands of the 80s. Big Audio Dynamite were primarily famous for being the band of 'Mick Jones of the Clash', but their first full-length LP, This is Big Audio Dynamite, was not only revolutionary in the way it incorporated samples and beatboxes into the traditional rock band format, it was also a killer album, packed with infectious rhythms, samples of Sergio Leone and Nic Roeg films and funny, thought-provoking lyrics.

They went on to make many more great albums, including Megatop Phoenix and The Globe (as BAD II), which saw them almost break through into the major league in the USA.

As the 90s progressed, however, interest in the band waned, and the last album they recorded (in 1997) was rejected by their record label. And while it wasn't perfect, it sounds pretty good today - better than its two predecessors in my opinion. The band eventually released the songs one by one through their - now-defunct - website, and the whole thing, including a load of bonus tracks, has just been made available to download in its entirety. In glorious 320 kbps MP3 format, no less, and free!

Click here to go to the download page.

Meanwhile Mick Jones has not been sitting still, of course, having famously produced the two Libertines albums and the Babyshambles album, Down in Albion. He has also been working with Tony James (formerly of Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik) in Carbon/Silicon. According to Wikipedia, "similar in many respects to Jones' earlier work in Big Audio Dynamite, Carbon/Silicon aims to break the traditional approach to rock and roll. The band described by critic Alan McGee as "...the Stones jamming with a Laptop," make use of samples in their recordings and live shows. The formation of the band was catalyzed by the internet and p2p file sharing. The first song written by Jones and James was entitled "MPFree," in which they expressed their willingness to embrace the technology of the internet and file sharing, in the interest of spreading music, rather than profit."

Which is music to the ears of this long-time BAD admirer!

Carbon/Silicon have made 6 tracks available for download from their website:
Carbon/Silicon - The Whole Truth [mp3]
Carbon/Silicon - Caesar's Palace [mp3]
Carbon/Silicon - Barnes Wallace [mp3]
Carbon/Silicon - The Global War on Culture [mp3]
Carbon/Silicon - What The Fuck! [mp3]
Carbon/Silicon - Are You Terrified? [mp3]

There is artwork for the 2 EPs available on the website, and for more information you can visit the official fansite.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Libertine making tracks

Dirty Pretty Things, the band of 'other Libertine' Cart Barat, is set to release its debut album in May. If the tracks on the promo sampler recently sent out to reviewers and record shops is anything to go by, we have plenty to look forward to. The songs bristle with the punk energy of early Libertines numbers. This will come as a pleasant surprise to anyone who like me was slightly underwhelmed by first offering Bang Bang, You're Dead.

In an interview with the NME late last year, Carl said that after a difficult year his new band feels like "four guys against the world again", and the tour has given him the chance to bond with the rest of the group.

He said: "I've taken a year to sweep up the pieces, focusing, and remembering who I was and why I did what I did rather than tying up the loose ends of the Libertines, which has really taken up a lot of time and emotional space."

Sounds like it did the trick:
Dirty Pretty Things - You Fucking Love it [mp3]
Dirty Pretty Things - If You Were Wondering [mp3]
Dirty Pretty Things - Deadwood [mp3]
Dirty Pretty Things - Gin & Milk [mp3]

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More magic from Italy

Afterhours have built a huge name for themselves in their native Italy, and have been championed by the likes of Mercury Rev, REM, Mark Lanegan and Afghan Whigs founder Greg Dulli. Now they have recorded for the first time in English and are poised to break out into the rest of the world.

"Ballads for Little Hyenas" is an amazing album, dark, brooding and rich in drama. Singer Manuel Agnelli's voice veers from gritty Maggie May-era Rod Stewart growl to keening falsetto to Nick Cave baritone, while the music and atmosphere are drawn from a similar well to Cave, The National, Lanegan and their ilk.

The album is no.1 download at the moment in the eMusic Power Chart, and with the band currently touring Europe, they look as if they could be on the brink of gaining a worldwide following. Catch them while you can in these small venues:

Mar 15 2006 Paradiso - Upstairs Hall AMSTERDAM
Mar 16 2006 Rotown ROTTERDAM
Mar 17 2006 Vera GRONINGEN
Mar 18 2006 Ekko UTRECHT
Mar 23 2006 TBC BERLINO
Mar 25 2006 Stadtgarten ERFURT
Mar 26 2006 Carrera MONACO
Mar 30 2006 Alcatraz MILANO
Mar 31 2006 New Age Club RONCADE (TV)

You can buy the album for a mere £7.66 from the One Little Indian website, and there's also a video promo you can stream here.

Here are some MP3s in case you are not yet totally convinced!

Afterhours - The Ending is the Greater [mp3]
Afterhours - Fresh Flesh [mp3]
Afterhours - White Widow [mp3]

Afterhours MySpace page
Band page on One little Indian site

Thursday, March 09, 2006

My cup overfloweth

There are some mind-bogglingly good resources out there on 't interweb. I've mentioned Fabchannel before, which features live and streamed recorded video of concerts from the two best venues in Amsterdam, from the likes of Bloc Party, the Charlatans and Franz Ferdinand. Now I have stumbled across something even bigger and better - an archive of thousands of audio recordings of concerts:

The Archive.org live music archive, featuring crystal clear soundboard recordings to stream or download (!) of performances by the likes of My Morning Jacket, Mogwai, Soul Coughing, Matisyahu, Ween, The Decemberists, Zwan, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Fugazi, Two Gallants, etc., etc.

The Grateful Dead are the best represented band there with 2923 separate gigs on offer. Seriously. Americans, eh?

I listened to a streamed recording of a 1996 Soul Coughing gig earlier, and was transported back to the time I saw them in a tent at Lowlands in '97, playing an almost identical set. Quality recording of a great gig.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I've been a better lover with your mother

It's funny how a buzz grows around a band or an album. A distinctive album cover definitely helps - you see it out of the corner of your eye a few times, stuck away down the bottom of the page on Pitchfork, PlayLouder, Gigwise, DiS. Then you start seeing the band name appearing on blogs, on the front page of the Hype Machine, and finally you put the band name and the album cover together and think "I suppose I'd better listen to this".

Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon is the buzz album du jour, and I am listening to it for the first time as I write. That's right - it's so good I couldn't wait to write about it. The sound is not a million miles away from Modest Mouse, Wolf Parade and their ilk, except they come at you with some really unexpected rhythms - sometimes uptempo jazzy, sometimes a slapped rockabilly snare - which make you sit up and notice.

Ditto the lyrics, which also deliver regular slaps round the face when you are least expecting them - see the heading above.

As always, an MP3 paints a thousand words, so here are a couple of tracks that I haven't seen on other blogs up to now:
Tapes 'n Tapes - The Iliad [MP3]
Tapes 'n Tapes - Buckle [MP3]
Tapes 'n Tapes - 10 Gallon Ascot [MP3]

You can buy the CD direct from the band on their website, where you can also download 3 other tracks off the album and 3 tracks from their debut EP.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Turn on. Tune in. Get blown away.

TV On the Radio's second album, 'Return to Cookie Mountain', has leaked, and first impressions are that this will sweep all before it. It's a massive soundclash of styles, impossible to pigeonhole yet utterly New York-ian, a riot of distorted guitars, sound collage and falsetto-Mick-Jagger vocals.

A certain D. Bowie also lends his vocal backing on one song (Province).

It is one of those albums that picks you up, takes you on a 50-minute emotional rollercoaster ride and leaves you reeling.

If you haven't got them already, buy their first EP and album and get yourself prepared, this is going to be one of the albums of the year.

Here are some tasters:
Blues From Down Here [mp3]
A Method [mp3]
I Was a Lover [mp3]