For the last 20 years, music has primarily entered my lugholes via tinny computers,”i” prefixed devices and a pair of speakers salvaged from a £200 Aiwa midi hi-fi system that was already 10 years old when the Tricky stickers that adorn them were put on.
This week Richer Sounds seduced me into a new decent-ish pair of speakers and my god, it’s like I grew a new pair of ears!
The only trouble is, everything sounds so good, if you put Morris Minor & The Majors “Stutter Rap” on right now, the chances are I’d proclaim it the future of hip-hop.
Thankfully, with perfect timing a promo of DJ WrongTom & Ed Zed’s “Spiky Dread: Issue 1” compilation popped into my inbox to christen my new purchase in more fitting style.
Following his acclaimed Roots Manuva collaboration “Duppy Writer“, WrongTom teamed up with Deemas for “In East London“, described by Wire Magazine as “the strongest modern reggae set to emerge from the UK in years”. At the same time, Tom and friend Ed Zed set themselves up as the “Time Team” of Punky Funky Reggae unearthing lost gems of the genre on a weekly basis via their Skank Blog Bologna website.
After tracking down the owners of the finest of their finds, “Spiky Dread Issue 1” was born featuring a smattering of cuts by well-known bands like The Slits but more importantly a feast of – to me at least – totally unheard of tracks by acts plundering the rich seam between punk and reggae.
“Cool Down” by ‘America’s greatest unknown band’, The Offs is a glorious opener to a compilation that will hopefully find its way into the Christmas stocking of anyone who ever loved Punk, Reggae, Funk or a SoulJazz compilation. I’ll be buying it for Vivian Goldman & Ed Zed’s eight pages of liner notes alone (but that’s just me).
Right, on with a rundown of some of the finest music I’ve stumbled across recently. As ever you can listen to just the sounds (without the words) via the links below or the embedded Whyd playlist.
The video for Keaton Henson’s new single is the perfect visual representation of his music, its stark, beautiful, with muted colours and at the end someone cries.
It might just be the most effective on screen blub since Sinead O’Conner covered Prince, but like Sinead it’s moving because you don’t doubt it sincerity.
Londoner Heaton rarely plays live, didn’t originally intend to release his music publicly and on occasional interactions with the press responds to questions by quoting from poets or illustrations.
Many of his rawest songs appear to be inspired by the fallout from a relationship with French singer Soko. Posting a live video of the unreleased “Gard De Nord” on Facebook, Soko commented “THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SONG ANYONE HAS EVER WROTE ME.. My heart is aching, bleeding.. Miss him..”
To record their album ‘La Ferme De Fontenaille‘, husband and wife duo “Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou packed guitars, a few mics and a 4-track cassette recorder into their long suffering British Leyland campervan, and headed for northern France.
“I was born in the North West of England
Where Industrial shells like monuments stand” (lyrics)
“A Proud Surrender” from their free to download taster EP sounds like a protest song that’s been passed down through generations and forged in the struggle of the working man. It is however entirely original and like the rest of the album was largely forged in a barn in the Pay De La Loire region.
The EP also contains the perhaps more straight-forward but none the less beguiling folk love song “For A Minute There“.
From English folk recorded in France to Hip-Hop direct from Paris. Nicky Lars describes “Rock Rock On” as “Just a lil’ track…made the beat quickly and recorded the voice in one take” but it’s got a wonderfully retro A Tribe Called Quest feel to it.
JAH WOBBLE & KEITH LEVENE – ‘YIN & YANG’
Just as PiL reform and release new material, two of the key players from their most revered album “Metal Box” make their own return. The unmistakable sound of Jah Wobble’s bass first reunited with Keith Levene’s guitar after the latter kicked smack and fancied recording some music again.
“Yin & Yang” finds Wobble in abrasive but ebullient mood as he rasps “Fuckin’ Yin & Fuckin Yang” to a backing of fierce drums, distorted guitars and manic laughter. Never one to mince his words he ends with the rhyming couplet… “Like a bolt out of the blue, I’m a cunt and so are you“.
Continuing a fine tradition of not just missing the boat but walking straight off the jetty I’ve come across this burst of reggae sunshine that almost single-handedly rewinds the clock to the glorious summer we didn’t actually have.
Created by Jahtari trailblazer Disrupt and Anglo-Indian Glaswegian MC Soom T, “Summer Days” bounces along with more of a spring in its step than Inspector Gadget.
Released on Soom T’s Renegade Masters label, there’s a dub version on the flip that unfolds the wonderful Nintendo Dub beeps and throbs and sends them echoing off into the distance.