22 April 2014

Music Review // Lady Neptune – Destroys The Moon

The computer game influenced, triceratops sporting cover art for this recently released E.P. from Lady Neptune belies its true nature. Of course, we’re not ones to judge the music by its cover but one thing’s for sure, if that Triceratops is in need of some music to charge into a crowd of dinosaurs to, this is it.


In all fairness, though, the cover art does a disservice to the distinctly not unlistenable music contained within. The dream pop imbued no wave edge to the music makes it a listen that needs to be concentrated on. That’s not to say you won’t want to listen, merely that its beauty needs to be savoured. The sheer dystopia of Theme Song is embracing and confusing yet not less than essential; ethereal harmonies meld with a hardcore psych inspired backing  and we’re not quite what it’s the theme song for, but it will have to be to something pretty darned special.

As Destroys The Moon continues, that aforementioned psych influence gets less muddier, with more vocals and a warmer sensation tingling along the spine. I Dunno, the second track is possibly just as it’s meant to be, with intertwining genres and an irresistible hook you don’t why you love it but you definitely do.

Slowing the pace right down, (and adding some classic dream pop ambiance), is Get Out of Here, where we are invited to do as the title says on a daydream. The opening half is just right daydream for us, and when the powered up backing returns half way through it’s a powerful moment that puts the record in perspective. Indeed, it’s here the experimental edges begin to show more overtly. The loop sketches and ethereal noodling that close the track are perfectly in place despite the fact you never thought a record like this could handle them.


But with the closing, fifteen minute epic Life On Neptune we find the real experimentation. The opening four tracks are like sketches of sound by comparison to this. Galactic interference mingles captivatingly with radio voices from the ether in a never less than ear catching style, and as it all builds into a cacophonous static, this experiment brings things to a close with sounds that would certainly fit into the Neptune scene perfectly. If you’ve ever pictured futuristic scenes of discos ruled by static rather than beats then this is just up your street. Scary, highly indulgent and never less than on the edge Lady Neptune has produced an E.P as fascinating as it is brave. 

We want more!


(S.Gahan) 

Album Review // Kelis – Food

We’ve talked previously about how food and music seem to go together perfectly and here, as if to prove our point, comes Kelis with an album called Food. Coincidence? We think not…


Indeed, as lazy metaphors go, there are many you can justifiably throw at this record with its numerous cuisine references found in the song titles. Arguably, this is much  tastier a meal than the previous work we’ve encountered from the artist. Imbued with a modern soul sensibility and sophisticated, rather than needlessly experimental (although there is never anything wrong with a bit of experimentation, of course), production this album swathes over the listener like a perfectly cut silk jacket.

The perfectly balanced Floyd, contains the lyric ‘I know I don’t look it but I can cook’ and true to the songs chorus we were truly blown away by this bittersweet anthem to seeking companionship. With horns that are like honey on an already sweet pancake it’s an early highlight, soulful and infinitely listenable. With considerably less tracks on the list than the average Kelis album too, this  is only a good thing. After all, how many servings can one get through? The metaphorical musical buffet of Food offers thirteen tracks, the majority of which are winners.

Only the too run of the mill Runnin’ disappoints by comparison to the smorgasbord on offer. Notably, Jerk Ribs is an instant audio treat with an instinctive percussive rhythm and more of those horns that capture the imagination so well. Vocally too, there is little to find lacking with some classic soul imbued vocals adding to the funk of an album that is certainly worthy. Add the straight ahead New Orleans funk of Hooch to a bursting trunk of funk booty to treasure and you already have some inspiring jams for everyone and the true funk soldier next door.

But as with any album themed around such culinary love, there are some flavours that go deeper than the horn imbued funk. One of these flavours, the bittersweet but beautiful Bless The Telephone is another must listen, recalling those moments when a ring of the phone can be a cure for a lonely patch.

There is perhaps much to be said about Food that can be better attained by listening to it at your nearest convenience. It’s an album that is shockingly listenable – and far removed from the early Kaleidoscope days of the artist. After listening to the album, we certainly did need some ice cold water, to quote the endlessly listenable Friday Fish Fry, resplendent in its exquisite brass arrangements and passionate vocalisation.

Disparate elements of jazz, funk, psychedelic, world music elements and a stunning production from TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek all combine for a career reinvention that is certainly one to treasure. If this was a meal (and it surely is) we’d be giving it a rare full recommendation and drinking a rare vintage to accompany it’s bittersweet mahogany soul.


(Sebastian Gahan) 

Food is released 21/4/2014 via Ninja Tune. 

Album Review // Blood Red Shoes – Blood Red Shoes (Self Titled)

Released earlier this year, Blood Red Shoes' self titled album really is worth your time. A disturbing, volcanic landscape decorates its cover and the music found within is not too different from that feeling.


Welcome Home explodes into action on a bed of frenetic guitar riffs, ever increasing in their intensity before the positively killer drums kick in and add to the explosion of sound that shocks the unprepared listener just sixty seconds into the album. We’ve always known that Blood Red Shoes are not for the faint hearted – easy listening they are not, for sure.

This album strips away a layer of production and lets the raw guitar and vocals do the talking in the best way possible. The band’s urge for us not to slow them down on Everything All At Once is certainly one we’d we wise to heed – especially when they music as addictive as this.

Over twelve tracks the band beat up your ears with a most pleasurable intensity and highlights are a plenty. An Animal is one for sure, previewed as it was before the albums full release to great enjoyment at #srcz. Even the ‘quieter moments’ such as Far Away take the listener by the heart and on the taut but industrial tinged beauty of Behind a Wall we see the band at their best. It’s like listening to bees making the best honey in the country to a soundtrack of piercing riffs and not just the guitar kind.

Listen also to Speech Coma for a taste of the bands ability to make the darkest of music bittersweet with those unforgettable lyrics. ‘I can’t get my words out/ It’s like someone cut out my tongue’ they intone and it’s hard to describe why it’s such a great listen but the band’s trademark chaotic but good sense imbued arrangements are surely why it’s a listen that imprints on the mind with a rare ease.


Indeed, the only criticism that could be laid in the way of the album is that it’s perhaps a few tracks too long. But that’s but an afterthought when you think that it flows by with an ease uncommon in many albums of this genre. Loud isn’t always what you need but there are the quieter moments that break up the mainly heavy arrangements that threaten to overwhelm the listener on occasion.

As threats go though, this is one that is uniquely enjoyable. May their shadow loom for at least a few more spins!


(S. Gahan.)

15 April 2014

New Sounds // Marc Ford – Blue Sky

With a new album out this week, Marc Ford certainly has predicted the blue skies that have blessed some of our cities of late. This charming video for song Blue Sky sees two children illuminate the monochrome aspects of life with their magic paintbrushes in a very endearing manner. We need more of these magic brushes!


The video is directed by David N. Donihue and stars Marc Ford, Andrew Ruiz with Chelsea Rifkin and Dave Truax. The americana tinged album Holy Ghost! is out now via Naim Edge Records.  


13 April 2014

E.P Review // Curelight Wounds – Silver Sand

The third E.P. from Brooklyn’s Curelight Wounds had us to attention rather quickly. Mixing the oft-quoted shoegaze genre with their already present dark metal ethos it’s a surprisingly effective listen.


Opener See It Burn is a fast paced, percussive intro that instantly expounds the new shoegaze element effectively. Asking the question ‘Do you wanna see me burn’ under a mat of bass and drums with that classic shoegaze styled guitar style it’s an impressive opening salvo. Following it up is the amped up Ride, with a faster pace and almost off the cuff quality about it. The fact it sounds so good is already noted, but considering we’re not usually taken with this particular genre it’s done a good job of converting us.

Silver Sand lifts it’s head out of the sea of liquid mercury that submerged the first half of the EP and the shoegaze element is less evident here, but the song is no less potent for it. With vox low down in the mix and the thunderous drums centre stage it makes all the right moves in its allotted time. Closer Empty Faith enters drone territory and with the shift in production that makes it all the more palatable. The EP is drawing to a close here and the climatic tone really makes it a highlight of the release.

So after just twelve minutes Silver Sand concludes and although it’s about two minutes too long for this particular genre to work well with, it’s a third EP that is most definitely worth your time. And if you haven’t got twelve minutes to play with then you need to find them…

Reviewed by C. Agent

Silver Sands is released April 22 via independent release. 



12 April 2014

Music Review // Shit Robot – We Got A Love

Dance music is a genre that can either impress or make hit the forward button post-haste.  There is so much of it out there that the good stuff often hides in little pockets of reality where all the best beats pump out for the pleasure of a more intimate venue.  We Got A Love, the latest from Shit Robot is definitely one of the latter propositions.


If you imagine the perfect venue for a party, it all depends on what you actually want to do. This is music that could fit into the intimate, more chill out scene than  full on rave party. There is more to the music than just beats for the sake of beats, there are sonic textures that conjure up ethereal cosmoscapes or neon lit revelries in the coolest cities at midnight.

Space Race, one of the albums two instrumental pieces perfectly sets the scene with its melodic nods to early Kraftwerk and driving but picturesque beats. Then there’s the hypnotic and endlessly listenable Do That Dance, featuring Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem that urges the listener to bring their love down to dispel the blues. It is certainly an album highlight for this reviewer. (Make sure to check out it’s excellent promo clip as well…)

As a whole though the album keeps a good pace, doesn’t repeat itself too often as many an album of this genre is inclined to far too often, and is certainly full of love. The influences here are certainly more positive than negative, with glowing warmth spreading about as it wends its way through a sea of neon tinged beats and constructs.

The Reggie Watts featuring opener The Secret kicks off things in a surreal, retrofuturist disco manner as the futuristic synth beds shimmer their way into your psyche and the vocal samples hide amongst the forest of beats tantalisingly. This continues into Dingbat (featuring Museum of Love) as the D’n’B influence kick in to great effect.

Arguably, this is not an instant album as such and that is only a good thing. Too often electronic music hinges onto lazy hooks that fail to engage the attention for longer than one track but there is none of that here. The nine tracks each give a measured dose of pleasure, rarely giving any hint of try-too-hard or filler. Shit Robot, aka Marcus Lambkin, should be proud to have avoided any ‘difficult second album’ clichés on We Got A Love with a perfectly pitched record that keeps attention on it all the way through.

Indeed, if he were a real robot we’d probably add him to our Robots We Love list. But as it is, We Got A Love is an album that is just the right thing for those looking to do some musical exploration.


Reviewed by Sebastian Gahan. 

Album Flashback #18: Shivaree - I oughta give you a shot in the head for making me live in this dump

It all started after an episode of Later… with Jools Holland way back in 2000.  #srcz Editor tells us how the discovery of an album in a Tokyo record store informed a lifetime of listening.

“I oughta give you a shot in the head for making me live in a dump like this…”

No, I’m not threatening you - I’m quoting. Of what I shall now reveal: Shivaree. Know ‘em? Well, you damn well should do! Shivaree were a trio of musicians who have released four albums of brilliantly effective, weird and bizarre alternative rock. 


Singer Ambrosia Parsley has a unique voice and turn of phrase that could make you shiver from fear of about to be Axe murdered or smile from ecstasy. This album is the band’s first album and is particularly worthy of being written about as not nearly enough people knew about them. (Parsley released her first solo disc Weeping Cherry in 2013 following the bands dissolution in 2007.)

It all started when I watched Jools Holland about ten years ago and saw Shivaree perform two tracks from this album. The tracks in question were Daring Lousy Guy and Goodnight Moon, famous for its appearance on Quentin Tarentino’s Kill Bill.  I loved it instantly, but couldn’t find the disc anywhere. Fast forward eighteen months and I’m in Tokyo. I’m in Nakano and mooching around the shopping mall killing time before work. 

Upstairs in this mall is a dirty looking record shop that outwardly, at least, seems like the kind of place Ayumi Hamasaki and Oasis records go when they die. The smell of dust, cobwebs and alcohol was evident. There were plenty of customers present though. Impressed, I started rooting through the record bin at the entrance. After much rummaging and eye averting from eighties junk and throw away J-Pop I saw the said album by Shivaree in front of me. The name clicked. I remembered the performance I’d seen on tv many moons ago and bought it instantly. 
The album presents a dark, industrialised view of life that incorporates poetry, technology and irony in combination with much more. This album is not perfect. It has to be said that it could have been longer and thus more fully formed. But, such all round talent is never perfectly formed. Perfection is the enemy here. The success of this album is sounding highly produced yet rough at the same time. 

Tracks such as Goodnight Moon and Arlington Girl present a world of monochrome quality that is scary as hell and sad as anything. However the emotion is not bitter, merely weirdly beguiling. Listening to the songs on the album one can visually picture what is going on. It is a credit to the writing ability of Parsley and co that such evocative work is possible. The world we see in most of the songs is a bleak picture of the songs characters living out their misery yet not being sad. The effect couldn’t be completed without the brilliant sound sculptures that form the backing music. 


 The piano on Arlington Girl perfectly paints the picture of blackness presented in the lyrics, with the grainy quality improving the sound rather than ruining the effect. The rough edges are present here and also on the sardonic album close Arrivederci. Lyrically, Ambrosia Parsley is gifted to say the least. Classic examples include “Well I think I hate you / Isn’t this fun? / You’re gonna shoot/ And I baby loaded the gun” from Bossa Nova, the whole of Goodnight Moon and much of the rest actually. Rarely does one find such a dark and atmospheric lyric base sung so frighteningly sweetly.

There still really is a lot to recommend this album. Take a few listens and you’ll be hooked. This music is dark, deliberate and non-commercial in its approach. The only really instant track is Goodnight Moon, which is not to put it down merely complement it.

There is really not that much more to say except seek it out.

Words by Sebastian Gahan. 


#srcz 

09 April 2014

On The Scene // SNØKRYSTALL at The Nordic Church, Liverpool.

#srcz loves churches, music and Nordic culture. Put all three of those together and you get a gig at the beautiful Nordic Church in Liverpool. Our man on the scene Joseph Crawford gives us his accout of a very special night... 

It’s Friday night and I’m in a church. It’s pretty ridiculous, but so is spending half your paycheck gulping down lumpy throatfuls of Popworld gunge for the twelfth night running – and this time it’s only to get pissed enough to stave off this cancerous boredom and still the decay of your poor brain’s whole left side! It used swim in creative juices… now look at it! All the while we, the live arts community, commune with wine and music - having our senses stroked by visual treats and strummy, yummy beats.

"The door’s open!"

 The Nordic Church here on the brim of Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle had already welcomed the likes of Moxxie, Alpha Male Tea Party, Silent Cities (and so many more) during this year’s Threshold Festival with open arms – and here I am again, thirsty for more. Less thirsty now I’ve got my wine bottle open. Damn surprise corkscrews! And no I didn’t sneak it in – it’s bring your own booze night, and I’ve spent a fiver on 750mls of Spanish red; 13.5% alcohol, and 86.5% pretentiousness.

Having heard next to nothing of Ragz Nordset or Henry Pulp, I can only imagine what lies ahead. I spy Threshold’s own Chris Carney jocking the pre-performance tunes as X-Ray Katt, and I’m reminded of the community these wonderful people have helped to create. I hope there’s time for a quick cigarette before the show…

Henry Pulp

No there isn’t, and I’m late for the introduction. Taking my seat, the small hall is already awash with acoustic pleasure from a three-piece electric/acoustic guitar and bass, identified to me as Henry Pulp. Resembling a drum-less Kings of Leon, Pulp’s sound consists of entrancing fingerpicking style ballads with strong vocal drive. Pulp himself is impressive, but I’ve never understood acts with 0 percussion (he says waiting anxiously for Silent Cities). A lovely opening, these three timely gents are worth clocking.

I am later informed that Pulp also has a 10-piece big band which can be found on Soundcloud. A good thing too: I am a beat-driven animal. Pulp’s fingerpicking is so consistent that the rhythm never loses pace, and songs of love and loss are performed with a genuine longing from this talented three-piece. They end as perfectly as they began – my cue for another cigarette before the next dose of entertainment.


CommuniVocation

By now you will have spent hours, days, weeks craning over illegible textbooks that sound like they’ve been written by pompous intellectuals with predilections for polysyllables… and now you need entertaining. You could try the Krazyhouse again, or perhaps Mojo… again – or you could shake off the routine and see something exciting instead!

Mellowtone/RebelSoul have done a wicked job with the décor – candles scattered across the floor, and glistening art pieces hanging from the walls. Most impressive are the light projections on the dome wall courtesy of Wunderkammer: visual representations of snowflakes, crystals and universal wonders. Pouring myself another glass of wine, the audience’s mood is feeling loosened. Strangers becoming contacts, conversation becoming banter, and I can swan around at my leisure before the next act starts. Speaking of which…


Ragz Nordset

Between worlds in this Anglo-Nordic church, Ragz said she felt ‘right at home’, taking a moment to teach us a Norwegian greeting before striking up her first song. Having supported acts such as Noah and the Whale, Laura Marling, and Wild Beasts, I had high expectations as she began her first song.

She was like a bird. For her first gig this year, Ragz (pictured) swept out of her cage with such refined grace, we were all spell-bound. A beautiful singer; falsettos rise and fall, transitioning perfectly from grounded altos to lullaby guitar picking. Another drum-less act, it seemed this place was too revered for much percussion – but for once I wasn’t complaining. ‘Jamie’, a song about a deceased friend, is over too soon, and with each song we are given a glimpse into Nordset’s personal life. Clearly a very empathetic human being, Ragz’ material centres on deeply personal events with story-based delivery. ‘Realist’ is a potent end to her guitar set.

On to the piano and singing in Norwegian, we are treated to a rare and lovely performance. ‘I’m gonna leave you with one last snippet of Nordic-ness’ she says – an acappella requiem that she belted out in her native tongue with passion. She was radiant.

Reading these notes back is getting a little difficult now - my eyes are blurry from the performance, but it could very well also be the wine.

Still think that getting sloshed in Yates’ surrounded by footy nuts and the stench of voyeurism is your only option for the weekend? Nonsense! You can be getting sloshed here surrounded by freaks, geeks, and good people in musical solemnity! And no I’m not against football: who doesn’t love the thrill of supporting something? If you’re feeling neither red or blue though, pick up a music mag (they’re free) and see what else you can be supporting. Like this…

Silent Cities

When I saw that Simon Maddison aka Silent Cities was being accompanied by cellist, Luke, I knew we were in safe hands. The announcement ‘ladies and gentlemen – Silent Cities!’ was followed by applause, and then total silence.

An electro-warped rivet stemmed from the front along with Cities’ tremored voice, and after a hypnotizing opening, the cello gives wings to ‘Global Aerobics’. At each fall, the audience is so still you can hear the pressing of the guitar wood, and the cello adding another blanket on the warmth of the room. Projected on the walls is a map of the constellations – as if we needed to feel any more like we were in space right now.

‘Haptophic’ finishes with a whispered ‘thank you’ and the cheers from the crowd are spotted with anguish. ‘Bass and drums never really seemed to work, but Luke here filled the gap’ Simon says, and I can’t disagree with him. It’s against the rules. ‘I don’t usually talk this much in gigs – I must be making up for all the others. Or it’s the gin.’ We are informed that the new material on the way ‘is all being funded and produced by RebelSoul’, and the response ‘is it?’ from the back gets a big laugh, bringing us back from the lonely precipice. It’s easy to get lost soul-searching during Cities’ performances, and I mean that as the best compliment I can imagine. We were a collection of lonely animals bathing in the music of the solitary. Sounds like a fairly typical Friday night to me.

Even after a string snap, Simon still finds a use for the dead metal, caressing the guitar neck and creating new atmospheric sounds – it’s magic. ‘Beating Heart’ is of the last tunes played, and the last reverbeautiful echoes die around us. As ever, Silent Cities was as consistent as he was engaging: never failing to turn his audience completely subjective.

"Right on Your Doorstep..."  

So in fairness, I didn’t leave home with some red hot chick desperate to tear my clothes off at the next hotel like I always hope will happen on a Friday night, but I did leave with something else. I left that church with a skip in my step - the words from our host Mark ‘Monkey’ Ross of Mellowtone ‘you don’t get this anywhere else’ still ringing in my ears.

Want to try something new for a change? Try this; real Liverpool, real music, real people.

Words:  J. Crawford Images: Glyn Akroyd