As if I wasn't already full of festive cheer, it's heartening to see B.Dolan scoring something of an internet smash with his inspired reworking of the NWA's classic "F"@K...
I’ve been to a few gigs over the years but I can’t think of many occasions where I’ve given much thought to whoever organised it, beyond perhaps.. which idiot chose this support band or the running order says stage time 9…Its 9.30 now!
After “organising” (in the loosest sense of the word) Oxjam Walthamstow I’ll forever have a respect for promoters and their secret language of backlines, di’s, breakables & get-ins.
In the months between committing to put an Oxfam gig and the night itself I’ve gone from angst to wild eyed panic. At any moment a banquet of worry on which to feast… will the bands you love agree to play… wow they agreed, now what order to play in, which venue, how do I find kit cheaply, create publicity on a zero budget…
By the day itself I was a whirling dervish, dashing to collect a microwave to raffle, stressing over whether the children’s “You’re a star (cute bunnyrabbit)” handstamp or office envelope date stamp is best suited to marking punters. Arriving at the venue slightly late with bits of drumkit squeezed into every nook of my Nissan Micra I was so distracted by a mental checklist of things to do that I bumped the car into the car park wall. On cue the passenger window gave way, slid down with a clunk and refused to countenance the prospect of shutting again.
Anyway you get the picture, less Bill Graham, more Frank Spencer… on roller skates… going under a bus.
Attending a really well organised Oxjam elsewhere in North London a couple of nights earlier hadn’t exactly quelled my fears. Listed in Time Out (unlike me despite numerous attempts) it spanned 3 rooms with inspired comedy, an eclectic mix of live music, and DJ’s (including Coldcut’s Matt Black!!) It was genuinely superb from the soul of Nike Jemiyo backed by south London’s answer to The Dapkings to the amusingly titled Yorkshire Rapper (Listen to “Up North” – up north up north up north).
It’s the little things, so many little things, that trip you up.
Take the picture (above) featuring my puzzled attempts to construct a desk for CDJ’s out of empty beer crates and a stray coffee table, while in the background the sound man knocks up a wire for the mixers non-standard output. Meanwhile it’s an hour and a half before doors, 4 acts to soundcheck and time seems to be the only thing rushing.
The soundguy’s so laid back he appears to move in as if filmed in timelapse. It stressed the hell out of me but was thankfully merely the calmness and consummate skill that comes with having seen it and done it all before… “it’ll be fine” he reassured. Sure enough only 20 minutes after the advertised time, the doors were flung open and fortified by a glass of dry white, the volunteer on the door began to take punters money. Punters! Actual real people have come… and there are some I dont know by name.
I’d love to be able to give you a band by band review but the entire night exists to me only as some vague blur so if anyone wants to tell me what it was like please do!
All I can say with any certainty is thank god for Akira The Don, not only for performing but for his wildly enthusiastic hosting. He set the tone introducing The Melting Ice Caps (or Melty Ice Caps as he took to calling them) as his new favourite band… “OH MYYY GODD they’re incredible!“.
Described by a friend as “Divine Comedy channelling Morrissey in Marc Almond’s boudoir while wearing a Pet Shop Boy’s scarf” I’ve seen David Shah’s Melting Ice Caps a few times. Most notably a hilariously fractious performance, accompanied only by a DVD player in a sunken pit in the corner of a boozer. At the end of a truncated set Shah quite rightly declared “Im never playing here again“.
Thankfully for Oxjam Shah took full advantage of The Standard’s unusually wide stage with the full band Ice Cap experience, now with added Sax. New tracks “Join The Dots” and “In Bloom” were given an airing ahead of an EP in the new year, along with many of their nine “mostly free to download” singles (Grab them here).
A stray set list at the end of the night revealed that even with a bumper 45 minute slot there was no room for the superb “Pavlovian Boy“, or singles “Being No One” and the melancholic magnificence of the breakup song “Hard To Get“. As ever it ended with “Selfish Bachelor“, the diamond in a jewel encrusted crown of bittersweet pop songs. “You’ve been the best audiences we’ve had all year” said Shah before adding “although this is only the third time we’ve played…“.
For some reason #oxjamwalthamstow wasn’t trending worldwide at this point but word of the mighty Ice Caps did spread into the twitterverse with the local MP tweeting from Westminster:
Mise En Scene, Through a prism, Join the dots
Strike in the dark [audio:http://www.musiclikedirt.com/wp-content/MP3/strikeinthedark.mp3]
our lovely afternoon
le cafe et les hommes, in bloom, ohio
between eros and agape
Barbarossa (Italian for “red beard”) has been around in various guises since 2006, and recorded the first and so far only MusicLikeDirt Live session earlier in the year during a brief sojourn under his real name James Mathe. Most recently “Stones” a track featuring Jon Hopkins from the 2006 LP “Sea Like Blood” LP featured on the hit US series “How I Met Your Mother“. Fans of the show filled chat rooms with plea’s like “Help! I need to know what that song at the end of the last episode was… I want to play it at my wedding!!“. Basically the man’s got a beautiful voice, what more is there to say? That voice was even more to the fore as this was a solo stripped down performance, just James with his instruments spread out across 3 low tables.
The gig took place days before he was due to head to the hills outside Manchester to record
Update: The lovely people at Londonist have listed Oxjam Walthamstow as one of their "Music Choice's" of gigs in London this week. Indie Electro pop from The Melting Ice Caps, electronic...
Manchester’s NOCEREMONY/// emerged from nowhere with little fanfare and promptly blew the doors off the internet’s arbitor of musical hypeness “The Hype Machine”.
Like Wu Lyf, theyve mastered the 3 ingrediants of internet buzzery – 1). Keep ’em guessing – theyre from Manchester & thats all youre getting. 2). Get some iconic imagery going on (see Youtube). 3). Make sure all your titles and songs are in CAPS LOCK – LIKE YOUR MUM TEXTING YOU TO REMIND YOU ITS YOUR BROTHERS BIRTHDAY.
Fortunatly they also seem to have the fourth element that most forget… a decent tune.
“HURTLOVE” was the first to appear with its reverb heavy repeated 3 note piano refrain, beats and glitchy vocal about “Being cut deep inside”. Perfect for all lovers of Ambient Dance.
Now “WEAREME” arrives with its reverb heavy repeated 3 note piano…hang on is this the same track??? I can’t be sure I think one goes “Bing Bing Bong” and the other “Bing Bing Bonng” but whether its a new track or a reworking of the same elements, the only thing that matters is they’re both rather nice.
NO CEREMONY – Website
NO CEREMONY/// – “HURTLOVE” (MP3)
NO CEREMONY/// – “WEAREME” (MP3)[audio:http://www.musiclikedirt.com/wp-content/MP3/WEARME.mp3]
On Wednesday October the 19th 2011 Music Like Dirt is organising a charity concert as part of Oxfam's month long "Oxjam Festival". All proceeds from the night will go to help...
On Wednesday October the 19th Music Like Dirt will be joining forces with Oxfam for a charity gig featuring some of my favourite music of recent years. Its all part of the Oxjam festival which sees hundreds of gigs across the country to raise money for Oxfam’s work.
Check Oxjam’s website to find a gig near you, or even better buy a ticket for my night from We Got Tickets for the very reasonable price of £6.
I am both honoured and excited by the artists who’ve agreed to play but as a first time gig organiser frankly I’m terrified no one will turn up!
There’ll be more details on the blog in the next few days but first I thought I’d give a mention to a concert being put on by one of the bands who are playing, long time MLD favourites, The Melting Ice Caps.
Ice Caps head honcho David Shah describes SPECKS IN THE SKY as a night of stratospherically dreamy music (but without the night bus, or a stratospheric ticket price). It’s taking place at The Willmington Arm’s in Clarkenwell on September the 29th – at 4 quid its at least worth a gander at their Facebook page.
THE SOFT CLOSE-UPS
Keeping it in the family Shah himself will be performing, not with The Melting Ice Caps but his other group, The Soft Close-Ups.
They’re an art-pop duo who veer (beautifully, of course) from the acoustic to the electronic.
You can grab their album, ‘In Retrospect‘, for free (they also accept money) here: http://corporaterecords.co
“Fireworks” in particular is a delight, with such sparse production that there’s little but a burbling 80’s synth to accompany David’s plaintive voice. It’s even more special when coupled with a simple but very effective video.
“A delectably knowing way with lounge pop” said God Is In The TV
I’ve not had a chance to listen to Owen’s music yet but David assures me of his brilliance and canny ability to wring magic out of piano, ukulele and cello. My list of lazy comparisons includes Joan As Police Woman and Rufus Wainwright template. He rarely plays live and usually releases his music through playful stunts – copies of his last EP were hidden in secret locations for fans to hunt for.
Have a listen at www.owenduff.co.uk or watch his lovely Joanna Newsome cover below (He also sacrilegiously covers Whitney’s “I wanna dance with somebody”)
HONG KONG IN THE 60s
HK60s’ debut album, ‘My Fantoms’, comprises delicious vintage sounds, perfectly judged melodies and drifting melancholia. They wouldn’t be at all out of place in the esteemed company of Stereolab, Broadcast and Saint Etienne.
“…heart-melting beauty…” – Sean O’Hagan, The High Llamas
Stream the album for free at http://propersongs.net/lab
The freshly converted are always the worst. Born again Christians, ex smokers, and in my case, those who never showed much interest in going to Glastonbury but now – courtesy of a ticket from the very kind organisers of the Emerging Talent competition – stand transformed into a grade A #glasto bore.
While theres clearly some truth in the charge that over 40 years the festival has become more commercial, less edgy and enevitably at £195 pounds a ticket overrun by the middle classes. I can only judge it through my own first timers eyes, and on that basis, it was like somekind of musical wet dream.
A typical evening begins with Jarvis and the newly reformed Pulp revisiting the festival that made their name back in ’95. After that a short hop up the hill to The Crows Nest cafe where The Master Musicians of Joujouka are winding up a bewitching set, before the new queen of country Caitlin Rose takes to, what just about qualifys as a stage. A crowd of about 30 lap it up while sipping their herbal tea.
Leaving the nest, the walk down to the main site is accompanied by a sky alight with lazers from the Chemical Brothers. Their music booms out, but over on the West Holt, Big Boi from Outkast has the crowd bouncing to the catchiest riff of last year, “Shutterbug”. He ends with a triumphant “London, thank you, you’re the best“.
And thats just a few hours of music, as the cliche goes, Glastonbury is about much more than that.
Most of the first day involved getting there, finding a muddy swamp on which to pitch and then cycling through a series of perplexed facial expressions while working out which pole goes where. Its never ideal to be on your own in these situations as throwing the tent pegs on the floor and storming off in a huff is much less rewarding when on your return, someone else hasnt put the tent up for you.
Earlier in the year 40 bloggers were chosen to judge new bands applying for a coveted “Emerging Talent” slot at the festival, and a few left their computers behind for the weekend to attend.
Robin from the Breaking More Waves blog had the foresight and a twitter account to summon a handful for a meetup in the Park bar. Remarkably the people behind Just Music That I Like, Flying With Anna, Hot Cakes, and This Music Wins were charming, friendly, knowledgable about a wide range of musical styles and in many cases claimed to hold down jobs, relationships, and children (well not hold down children, but you know what I mean).
The conversation naturally focused on things like how long your blog had been going, music you like, the story behind your name, and of course a few mildly competitive when did you first hear X band. Take Caitlin Rose, one by one those who’d seen her recounted the ever increasingly tiny and obscure places they’d first seen her play.
At this point – realising I hadnt seen her at all yet – I panicked and claimed to have introduced her parents… but I think I got away with it.
The blog has been a little quiet of late as a result of my bleedin’ heart liberal Guardian reading tendencies getting me mixed up with an effort to setup a community centre in my local area.
It’s hoovering up all my spare time but on the plus side I’ll have amassed enough self righteous worthiness points to spend the rest of my life reclining on a chaise lounge reading The Sun, being fed Israeli grapes while my trafficked servant holds up Primark clothing for my nodded approval. Actually I protest too much its been a real privilege to be involved.
LA’s Shlohmo has been turning out remixes to die for ahead of the release of his full length debut “Bad Vibes” on August 9th.
His remix of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room” in particular is so laid back and soporific that putting it on a loop this morning transformed the hideous sweaty tumult of a London commute into something akin to chilling out in a floatation tank. Every shove, every bead of sweat, every disgruntled rustle of newspaper was nowt when given the unlikely soundtrack of Drake’s tale of 4 times a week sex and ill-advised hook ups with ex’s.
Shlohmo himself had this to say:
“I forgot i had this drake remix lyin around. this is seriously one of my fav songs of the year, if not ever. if youre one of those people that hates on pop music because you wear a backpack or smthing then plz chill out. try and appreciate shit even if u have to forget the context sometimes. good music is good music and u don’t have to front and pretend it’s below ur intellectual level“.
His remix of Burial’s “Shell Of Light” is if anything even better. Simply gobsmacking.
“been workin on this for the past few days. i just really couldn’t stop listening to the ending of “shell of light.” shit is so beautiful. so i did this so i could listen to it more. hope u like it ::)”
Before the blog enters a period of silence – while I pop my Glastonbury cherry – a few tracks that really should’ve been shouted from the roof tops months ago.
First up a concept album from The Indelicates, the band responsible for “Savages” a tune somewhat ridiculously awarded 2nd best track of 2010 by this here blogger – I say ridiculous because it clearly should’ve been No.1!
Back in 2004 the Indelicates were busy rehearsing their hit fringe musical based on the book of Job, when someone joked “What are you gonna do next? Waco: the Musical? Fast forward seven years and having pawned the family silverwear to fund the project Simon & Julia Indelicate finally unleashed “David Koresh Superstar“.
They even visited the site of the compound in Texas and in their words “looked nervously at it for a bit”. For those too young to remember they’ve compiled a handy guide here (although Bill Hicks also provided a summary).
Despite eagerly snapping up tickets to the Asian Dub Foundations Opera “Gaddafi – A Living Myth” I have to declare a well nurtured dislike of musicals. My brother excitingly declared that listening to the album you can almost see the West End production before your very eyes. I agree, but its a mark of how good David Koresh Superstar is that I managed to overcome the constant thought of a good play being ruined by overblown song.
The Indelicates – Facebook / Twitter
The Indelicates – “I Am Koresh[audio:http://www.musiclikedirt.com/wp-content/MP3/IAmKoresh.mp3]
Something Goin’ Down In Waco – The Indelicates by FollyOfYouth
Read: Excellent interview with Julia & Simon Indelicate about the Koresh album
Buy: Pay-what-you-like Digital download
Physical copy of David Koresh Superstar album or special edition signed by Simon and Julia with a 92 page book containing all the lyrics, (very) extensive footnotes, a Q&A and suggestions for further reading.
The free mixtape from Avant-guard hip-hoppers Death Grips has been going down a storm online for months now. Any mix that manages to sample Pink Floyd and Jane’s Addiction whilst also including the insanely addictive “Guillotine” deserves every bit of that attention. Its fairly dark stuff, not exactly easy listening, and it doesn’t fit the hip-hop mainstream, but try listening to the song below and not being mesmerised.
“It goes, its goes, it goes, it goes, it goes… Guilotinnnnnnne”
SAVE MJMJ RECORDS
Albuquerque, New Mexico, famed for Hot Air balloons, nuclear research, aerial tram ways and erm Prefab Sprout? Unfortunately its also got its fair share of robbers as MJMJ Records found to their cost.
“We had the worst Earth Day ever. We were on our way to LA and some jerks broke into our van. They stole our clothes, money, computers and all of Vacation Dad’s music stuff.”
In all the nefarious tealeaves made off with 7,000 dollars worth of music-making and label producing equipment – pretty devastating for a small independent label.
Their plan to save the label? Call up all their mates and get them to donate two LP’s worth of cutting edge music. You can donate to the Save twomichaeljordans label Kickstarter as well as buying the compilation or sample the MJMJ compilations (one rock, one electronic) here.
“Games” (above) by Witch Gardens featuring Manch Malevolent is just one of the superb tracks featured. Its also a rare example of that mini sub-genre, hip-hop meets indie, history is not kind to such collaborations but Witch & Manch stretch and almost reach the heights of De La Soul’s joyous 90’s collaboration with Teenage Fanclub “Fallin‘”. “So Mase beat the fucking beat while the teenage fan the heat”
“We do what we do and how we do because of you” Chuck D (who’d just recorded a rap for Gil’s next album)
The last conversation I had with Gil by Richard Russell of XL Records.
New York Is Killing Me: The unlikely survival of Gil Scott-Heron poignant piece from New Yorker magazine.
Don Lett’s fabulous documentary for BBC 4 “The Revolution Will
Not Be Televised” will hopefully be repeated in tribute but in the meantime someone bootlegged it on Youtube. It features contribututions from The Last Poets and Chuck D.
Newsnight’s Steven Smith travelled to the States to meet Heron on the eve of his comeback album “I’m New Here”.In 2000 Sean Rowley featured Gil on his much missed “All Back To Mine” series discussing music that he loves or was influenced by.
Gil Scott-Heron – Message to the Messangers
Gil Scott-Heron – “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
Esther Phillips – “Home Is Where The Hatred Is (MP3)”
Gil Scott Heron – “Home Is Where The Hatred Is (MP3)”
Long time MLD readers will remember my brother Ryan’s regular “TEN4SEVEN” series. Each and every week for a year he hunted high and low to find the 10 finest songs, until finally bowing out a spent husk of a man back in April 2010.
Now he’s resurrecting his blog “Stop Me If You Think Youve Heard This One Before“ with a broader focus on popular culture. So if you’re going to return why not do it with a bang and declare the 50 best songs of all time?
Why not? Because its a ridiculous task and just the thought of trying to boil down all the songs bouncing around my tiny mind is enough to push me closer to the funny farm.
I’m filled with a mixture of admiration at the enormity of the task and incredulity over some of the chosen tracks. Older brothers are meant to act as some kind of fount of musical inspiration for their impressionable siblings but I can only claim influence over Billy Bragg, the Pet Shop Boys and Coldcut’s go-go/reggae/hiphop classic “Stop This Crazy Thing“. My obsession with that track extended to painting a mural of the sleeve across the entire length of my bedroom wall.
StopMe: I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a top 100/top 50 list of my most cherished songs for about a year now. As my thirtieth birthday is weeks away I’ve decided nows the time to sit back and reflect on m musical life. For a bit of “Fun” I analysed my Top 50 and found out my tastes are 22% Pop-Rock and 18% Folk and that 2005 was the best ever year for music (Who’d have guessed).
I’ve included a selection of the best video clips below but you can watch all the available videos on my youtube channel by clicking here. It was tough going whittling it down to only 50 tunes and even harder to put them in order.
1. Bruce Springsteen – Jungleland
Born To Run LP – 1975
“Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a dodge, drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain”
Nine and a half minutes of shear epic Rock grandeur. Most full novels don’t contain this much beauty and narrative power. It also features Clarence Clemons delivering the greatest Sax-Solo in history building to an almost unbearably emotional climax across 2 minutes. I could listen to this every day for the rest of my life and never tire it out.
2. The Magnetic Fields – Papa Was A Rodeo
69 Love Songs LP – 1999
“Home was anywhere with diesel gas, love was a trucker’s hand, never stuck around long enough for a one night stand”
A story of lonesome one night stands and fleeting affairs. When the cathartic duet kicks in at my heart at 4.11 once breaks and yet rejoices. Over the years Stephen Merrit has written at least 50 of the greatest love songs ever written and this is his best.
3. The Indelicates – Savages
Songs For Swinging Lovers LP – 2010
“We are ash, we are books, coffee stained and overlooked, We are ornamental swords, forged for the peace after the war”
The lyrics to this song read like beautiful poetry. It’s a searing celebration of the outsider spirit. This says everything I ever wanted to say about great music.
4. Luxembourg – (I Need) A Little Bit More (Than You Give Me)
[audio:http://www.musiclikedirt.com/wp-content/MP3/top50/ALittleBitMore.mp3]Best Kept Secret: Demos & Rarities 2001-2004 Compilation – 2004
“I guess that when i told you I would leave you if you cheated, you took it as a promise, not a threat”
It takes a man of David Shah’s calibre to write a lyric this funny and yet sing it with so much power it’s like he’s tearing out his soul for your listening pleasure.
5. Ed Harcourt – Apple Of My Eye
Here Be Monsters LP – 2001
“I drink a lot of wine when I am alone, I lose my track of time, my ideas turn to stone”
I can’t fully describe why I love this song so much. There is something hidden in the giddy mix of handclaps, Hip-Hop percussion, woozy Jazz orchestration and raw Soul vocals that enthrals me everytime.
6. Richie Havens – Going Back To My Roots
Connections LP – 1980
“Not talkin’ ’bout the roots in the land, I’m talkin’ ’bout the roots in the man”
Roaring Soul vocals, Funk instrumentation, proto House Pianos and Disco beats building to a level where you just have to move your body.
7. The Pogues – Rainy Night In Soho
Poguetry In Motion EP – 1986
“We watched our friends grow up together, and we saw them as they fell, some of them fell into Heaven, some of them fell into Hell”
Simply one of the most beautiful things ever created by the hand of man. Shane MacGowan was in his late twenties when he wrote it but it reads like a death bed revelation.
For the first MLD Session we headed to the Pure Evil Gallery in deepest Hoxton. Down in its basement, surrounded by sculptures, spray paints and a buzzing tv set, we recorded three songs from one of our favourite artists, James Mathe.
Introduced via The Daily Growl blog back in late 2006 when recording under the guise of “Barbarossa” (“Red Beard” in Italian), James’s latest EP gave a taster of what to expect on his eagerly awaited LP “Care Cracks“.
In the past Ive compared his vocals to Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor (a comparison reinforced when they played after each other at one of the final Luminaire shows). Thankfully he also shares the Chips gift for melancholic lo-fi electronic beauty coupled with beguiling melodies.
First up the beautiful “Bloodlines”, it was a real privilege to see James and his band play this track live. Thanks must also go to Pure Evil for letting us film after hours.
You can hear more from James on the links below. You’ll also get a few musical tips too, like this gorgeous Findlay Brown remix which completely passed me by back in January.
For the second track James put the Omnichord to one side, grabbed a drumstick and joined the drummer for the urgent stripped down sound of “Turbine“. Lovely guitar work, especially as the guitarist had only learnt the songs the previous day!
Back in 1995 Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine were less than flattering about “Lenny and Terence”, but James is clearly a fan. He covered