Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Class Actress - movies

Class Actress returns at last with an EP, produced by Giorgio Moroder no less, and what an EP it is too. Hard and sizzling synth beats with a sense of the epic and also a dip into the darker side of life. "More than you" is quite an opener, all throbbing electro beat and sultry vocals. The title track is a fractured epic, world weary and twinkling in the midnight neon glare. The hope and despair of the night encapsulated in synth beats at once retro and from the future.

We're at the half way point of the year now and we might just have found our record (even if it was a digital download) of the year.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Live : The Grateful Dead (Santa Clara, CA 27/06/15)

Disclaimer, i wasn't there physically but i was there spiritually maaan. In other words I had to make do with the live web feed but thats the closest i will ever come to seeing the Grateful Dead live (unless i can find a bucket of cash before the final shows in Chicago early next month). Its the 50th anniversary of the forming of the band and 20 years since the death of Jerry Garcia and the final concerts of the Grateful Dead. To add a proper full stop to the story the surviving 4 members of the band and some friends have got together for 5 final shows.

Its formless and well formed, a fluid psychedelic jam of blues, funk and rock. Songs begin reasonably familiarly before heading off into sonic exploration. Like a guitar shaped Voyager probe. It all sounds amazing too and the visuals accompanying the music were also gorgeous. The only glitches being Phil Lesh's microphone seemed to be playing up but the guitars sounded fine.

Cream Puff War was the highlight if one can pick anything out like that, that dates back from the very first album. Indeed much of the first night of five's songs came from the early Dead period. Maybe this also brings the 60s to a close too? But no, the legacy lives on and will mutate and grow into many other forms. The originals are getting old now but younger generations have taken up the baton and taken it in new directions.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Top 5 Records (June)

1: Big Data - 2.0
2: Striking Matches - nothing but the silence
3: Waxahatchee - ivy tripp
4: Washed Out - within and without
5: Chris Robinson Brotherhood - phosphorescent harvest

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sagittarius - present tense

Although remaining pretty much unknown to the general public Sagittarius and their 1968 "present tense" album has a following amongst the underground hip scene, so is it justified? Lets note first that there wasn't really a group called Sagittarius this being a studio project mostly of Gary Usher but helped by Curt Boettcher and a host of guest musicians including Glen Campbell lending vocals on the excellent "My world fell down".

Musically it is a gem of late 60s psychedelia with folk and baroque flavourings. Its trippy and its pretty hippy. "Another time" is my favourite track, it is an excellent song with a lush, slightly hushed but catchy melody. The album lacks that bit extra to elevate it into a genuine lost classic but its a perfectly fine record, very much of its time.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Big Data - 2.0

Technology in our lives, should we fear it or should we rock it? Maybe we should be like Big Data and do both? A dazzling dark synth album about the dangers of unrestrained technology yet dripping with clever use of it to produce an innovative and exciting sound. "The business of emotion" is a sparkling pop track and with it a message of the marketing of our bared souls on social media.

"Dangerous" has a walloping melody, "Big dater" grinds with the best of them. "Automatic" has an epic build to it. A superb set of guest vocalists including White Sea and Jenn Wasner help articulate the message above the synth riot. Its all astonishingly good.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Movie : Stacey (1973)

Stacey (ex-Playboy Playmate of the month Anne Randall) is a hot action babe who fights crime and has lots of sex. She also drives fast cars and is very handy with a gun. Truthfully this early film by Andy Sidaris is ridiculous sexploitation tosh but has a compelling air about the nonsense. Its fun and entertaining which puts it above a lot of other films to be honest...

Stacey is hired to investigate the heirs of a rich old lady and quickly uncovers a nest of sex, blackmail, violence, sex, nudity, murder and more sex. Suffice to say its not high art and not exactly world class cinema but on the whole its well worth seeing.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Waxahatchee - ivy tripp

Waxahatchee is a Katie Crutchfield solo project but on this third album she has bought in other musicians to produce a bigger and somewhat more refined (but still raw) sound. However "Ivy tripp" is still often sparse and very personal.

Musically it often feels a bit retro, harking back to 90s indie, but thats no bad thing. "Under a rock" is a straight forward noisy indie rock classic, and follows an atmospheric feedback enriched opening "Breathless". "Poison" is exhilarating with waves of indie guitar thrash. Another excellent track is the stripped back and haunting "Half moon".

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Movie : Leopard Fist Ninja (1982)

The funny thing about Leopard Fist Ninja is that it doesn't actually include any ninjas. Much of the film is a reasonable kung fu film set in the mysterious Chinese past... apart from the random appearance of the occasional black and white fighter. The plot is (as you might expect) a bit hard to follow though not exactly original. Japanese (who are evil of course) have invaded our heroes' land when they were children and killed their parents. Then they are sent to learn martial arts so they can avenge them. Et cetera.

Of course these films are generally not viewed for the story but for the fighting and there is a lot of it and it isn't bad. Its OK as a film though adding ninja to the title was obviously a cash in on the 80s ninja craze and seems a bit silly.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Top 5 Records (May)

1: The Charlatans - modern nature
2: Princess
3: Jerry Garcia - Garcia
4: Chris Robinson Brotherhood - phosphorescent harvest
5: Foo Fighters - sonic highways

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Striking Matches - nothing but the silence

Its country, its rocky, its bluesy, its also pretty damn good. This debut album from this duo crosses over genres with a fresh, invigorating yet also sometimes fragile sound and a collection of well written and performed songs. "Missing you tonight" is the stand-out track, beautiful melodies and harmonies mark this track out as something really special.

Their album also includes some pretty nice guitar work too, as on "Hanging on a lie" with its energy and sass. Its a really good album, apparently they appeared a lot on the TV show Nashville, well i haven't seen it but them being on it would indicate the show was worth watching...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Chas & Dave - Christmas jamboree bag

Oh its a good old cockney knees up! A long medley of standards and music hall favourites, but don't recoil in horror as its all very well done and great fun. Snippets of songs like the Laughing Policeman and Knees Up Mother Brown are expertly woven by Chas & Dave to produce some great music. Its corny of course but what would be life without a good helping of cheese now and then?

As well there is a very good mini-live album of Chas & Dave's hits like the Sideboard Song (still one of the best songs there is), Rabbit and so on. And a rock and roll cover. You don't need to wait for Christmas, like turkey this is fine any time of year.