Sunday, March 30, 2014

Home Taping the '90s Vol. 2

With Nirvana’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 10th and the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death coming up, 1994’s music is high on the agenda right now. This gives us an excellent opportunity to go once again through the good old tape collection and use the wonderful internet technology of today to try to recreate the playlist of one of the 60-minute cassettes I was taping off the era's radio shows.

Volume 2 of our Home Taping the '90s series brings you an hour of excellent music selected from radio recordings made during March 1994 and mixes tracks from some of the protagonists of '90s indie rock (Hole, Meat Puppets, Sebadoh, Superchunk) along with obscure gems from bands you might never heard before (Done Lying Down, Monsterland, Breed, Aenone) unless you hold a PhD in '90s rock music history. A handful of these songs come from sessions recorded for BBC Radio 1 shows and I’m very pleased that we could find them available for online streaming (Inspiral Carpets covering Black Sabbath, the collaboration between Frank Black and Teenage Fanclub, and Th' Faith Healers track). Press play and enjoy an hour of the finest music that was playing on the radio during March 1994, right before the sad events of April 5th:

Side A
01 Meat Puppets - Backwater 03:42
02 Lotion - Tear 04:17
03 Done Lying Down - Septic 03:36
04 Monsterland - At One with Time 04:11
05 Jale - Promise 04:34
06 Hole - Rock Star 02:42
07 Breed - Wonderful Blade 03:52
08 The Charlatans - I Never Want an Easy Life If Me and He Were Ever to Get There 04:10

Side B
09 Inspiral Carpets - Paranoid 03:20
10 Frank Black & Teenage Fanclub - Sister Isabel 03:59
11 Crowsdell - Sad Eyes 03:31
12 Aenone - Celestia 03:15
13 Cornershop - Born Disco, Died Heavy Metal 03:40
14 Th' Faith Healers - Ooh La La 04:00
15 Archers of Loaf - Ethel Merman 02:42
16 Superchunk - The First Part 04:12
17 Sebadoh - Rebound 02:12

If you liked what you’ve just heard, here are the albums and EPs that you should be looking out for, in order of appearance in our mix-tape:
Side A: Too High To Die, Full Isaac, John Austin Rutledge, Destroy What You Love, Dreamcake, Live Through This, Violent Sentimental, Up to Our Hips 
Side B: Radio 1 Sessions, John Peel Session, Meany 7" and Dreamette LP, Saints & Razors EP, Hold On It Hurts, John Peel Session, Icky Mettle, Foolish, 4 Song CD EP and Bakesale LP.

And here's a little something in honor of Kurt and Nirvana from their historic Reading Festival headlining appearance in August 1992:

Nirvana - Come As You Are (Live at Reading 1992)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Found Sound Vol.13

Found Sound, the post series bringing you the best new music we discover through your helpful suggestions and submissions, gets to lucky number 13! In this edition, we have new releases by artists from Greece, Italy, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the UK. Let’s start from the south and work our way to the north:

Plastic Flowers - Vicious Victims

Plastic Flowers formed three years ago in Thessaloniki, Greece, by Giorgos Samaras and Aggelos Pashalidis. The dream pop duo has just released its debut LP titled "Evergreen" on Inner-Ear Records and Crash Symbols, and "Vicious Victims", a melodic, '80s-synthpop influenced gem, is its opening track. The album, which was recorded by using various vintage analog synths, drum machines and lots of cheap guitar amps in less than two months during the summer of 2013, also features collaborations with New Yorker Ed Askew (on the track "Love is Above All") and local heroes Keep Shelly in Athens (on "Ghosts"). Check it out here.

Schonwald - Fuchsia

Schonwald may have a Germanic sounding name but they come from Ravenna, Italy. Alessandra and Luca create an atmospheric, minimalist sound that draws inspiration from '80s synth-pop and new wave. The dark, ominous sounding "Fuchsia" is their latest song in a discography that also includes the 7" single "Mercurial" on Chicago label HoZac Records, the album "Amplified Nature" on Pocket Heaven Records and this excellent cover of The Cure's "A Forest".

Für Immer - Wrapped in Plastic

Another Germanic sounding band name, but Für Immer are actually a trio from Dublin, Ireland. Rachel, Stephen and Paul formed the band in January 2010 with a view to combining innovative visuals and heartfelt music in the face of a recession gripped Ireland. The track "Wrapped in Plastic" which brings to mind the chilling beauty of the Twin Peaks theme song, is one of the highlights off their recently released debut album "March", currently available as a free download here. You can also get yourself a beautiful looking physical copy of the album from here.

Postcode - Losing The Battle

Postcode are a five-piece band from the Isle of Man and "Losing The Battle" comes from their third album "Zebratronic". This record was conceived at a time when the band was incomplete and was recorded by Mikie Daugherty and Marie Reynolds utilizing drum machines, synths, guitars, screwdrivers, drumsticks and an increased deployment of slide to create a new, more experimental sound. The album is released by Small Bear Records and is available as a pay-what-you-like download from here.

Dead Fader - In Cover 

New 12" single by UK electronic experimentalist John Cohen, a.k.a. Dead Fader. "In Cover" is released by Robot Elephant Records and is available as a download and limited edition vinyl from here. The single is just an appetizer for the main course as Dead Fader has two full length album releases in store for us ("Blood Forest" and "Scorched") this April. Check out more sounds from Dead Fader here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Noise Met Sound Compilation

Noise met Sound, the Los Angeles-based DIY music label and art collective, is celebrating its one year anniversary with the release of a 9-track compilation featuring Lawrence Lindell, Gypsy Eyes and Inner Ecstasy.

And that’s not all; Lawrence Lindell, the label’s founder, has just released his second LP under his own name, titled "Eclectic Frequencies", a highly recommended release if you’re into the adventurous electronic journeys of artists like Aphex Twin or Flying Lotus.

You may already be familiar with Lawrence Lindell’s music concoctions if you’ve listened to any of his several self-released recordings as LAw which we have featured here in recent years. Check out both albums below and go here to discover all of the Noise Met Sound releases in its first year of existence:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Vintage Tracks: Eat Y'Self Fitter

Haven't done a Vintage Tracks post in a long while, but it's time to bring it back in order to honor a special anniversary: on this date, 30 years ago, I bought my first ever Fall record and it suffices to say I never listened to music the same way again. That record was "Perverted By Language", The Fall's sixth LP released on the Rough Trade label on December 12th, 1983, and it started with this simply incredible track:

The Fall - Eat Y'Self Fitter

Genius! Listen to the whole album below with several extras tracks from the 2005 re-release on Castle Music:

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Crystal Stilts, live @ Gagarin 205 (Athens, March 8, 2014)

It’s a happy coincidence that this year we had two excellent gigs happening in town around our blog’s birthday (March 6th) so we could celebrate our 6th Blogger anniversary in style while having the opportunity to gather interesting material for the posts that kick off our 7th season!

You’ve already read all about Tuesday’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club show here; let’s have a look now at Crystal Stilts’ live debut in Athens this Saturday at the Gagarin 205 club.

The New York-based psychedelic-garage quintet has so far released three albums and several singles and EPs in the six years since coming to prominence with the LP "Alight of Night" in 2008. It was around that time that we first had the opportunity to catch them live at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival, and not that much has changed with the band’s sound in the interim.

As a rule, change is considered to be a sign of progress for an artist, but I think for bands that specialize in a particular sound, change is not what it’s cracked out to be. Crystal Stilts remain focused on the primal garage rumble of the '60s and the psychedelic melodies of the same era and are willing to go as far as the early '80s to add some ice-cool new wave atmospherics to their dark, melancholic moods. The band hasn’t strayed at all from the mission statement made with its debut album and with the work that followed they were able to dive deeper in the sound they love and produce a considerable wealth of new material that they presented to us live this Saturday.

Their almost 90-minute set (including the two encores) gathered songs from their whole body of work and included even a few non-album tracks ("Sugar Baby", "Dark Eyes", "Still As The Night" - one of their finest moments) that surprised pleasantly their hardcore fans. Other highlights of the night included "Star Crawl", "Through The Floor", "Shake The Shackles", "Half A Moon", "Blood Barons", "Sycamore Tree", "The Dazzled" and "Departure".

A fine performance that was preceded by a strong 45-minute set by Victory Collapse, one of the most consistently good post-punk bands of the local scene.

Victory Collapse, live @ Gagarin 205 (March 8, 2014)

 Crystal Stilts - Through The Floor, live @ Gagarin 205

For more live videos, check out our Facebook page.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, live @ Acro Live Stage (Athens, March 4th, 2014)

Without a doubt, this was the gig that most Greek fans of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have been waiting for since 2004. In June of that year, a couple of weeks before everybody in the country would be celebrating the unbelievable conquest of the Euro Football Championship by the National team, the whole of the local alternative nation was celebrating in a field outside of Athens the second coming of the Pixies. The indie rock heroes were then on their first triumphant reunion tour and Rockwave Festival had the privilege to have them as headliners on its fourth day. The band that kicked off the festivities early that day, under the unforgiving sun of the Greek summer, was none other than Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Unfortunately, although the San Francisco trio was then at its prime, it hadn’t established a big enough following in Greece just yet to get the festival slot it rightfully deserved. As a result of this unfortunate timing, the band’s appearance early in the afternoon of a very hot day was sparsely attended while the few who did manage to be there on time were hardly able to enjoy themselves.

Fast forward a decade later, and finally Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are back for their first indoor gig in Greece. The venue this time was a big club at the center of Athens that’s usually used for other type of shows; the kind where the bouzouki and not the electric guitar is the instrument of choice. It is however the venue where Interpol played their one and only Athenian gig, so it is starting to create an interesting rock history of its own (just an idea, but maybe someone should try to get The Strokes to play here in order to complete this unfinished '00s rock trilogy).

This time, instead of a few hundred the attendance was closer to three thousand, a number that certainly made an impression to the band. As Robert Levon Been admitted after the band had played the first few songs and a mosh pit had started going at the front rows, they didn’t know what to expect since they hadn’t played here for so long, but the turn out and participation of the fans was quite a pleasant surprise for them.

And the thoroughly satisfying two hour set that we got in return was certainly a pleasure for us, as we were finally able to enjoy live some of our favorite B.R.M.C. songs from all their albums, from their classic 2001 debut through to last year’s "Specter at the Feast", including "Spread Your Love", "Red Eyes and Tears", "Stop", "Six Barrel Shotgun", "Berlin", "American X", "Beat the Devil's Tattoo", "Hate the Taste" and, of course, a storming rendition of "Whatever Happened to My Rock 'n' Roll (Punk Song)" at the encore, their signature tune. Strange they didn’t choose to end the show with that song as the only way to do something more impressive after that, would be to trash the stage and literally set it on fire! They closed with "Sell It" instead and the promise to come back for more soon.

On the evidence of the enthusiasm shown by the crowd and band’s excellent form although this was the end of a long tour, it would certainly be silly on the part of the promoters if they didn’t make sure to call them back much sooner this time. An undeniable victory for the power rock trio in an era where computers have the upper hand over guitars.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's complete set list: Let the Day Begin (The Call cover), Rival, Beat the Devil's Tattoo, Hate the Taste, Ain't No Easy Way, Berlin, Returning, American X, White Palms / I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier (John Lennon cover), Conscience Killer, Lose Yourself, In Like the Rose, Stop, Red Eyes and Tears, Six Barrel Shotgun, Spread Your Love.
Encore: Complicated Situation, Mercy, Shuffle Your Feet, Whatever Happened to My Rock 'n' Roll (Punk Song), Sell It.

B.R.M.C. - Whatever Happened to My Rock 'n' Roll (Punk Song), live @ Acro Live Stage, Athens

Sunday, March 02, 2014

New Releases: February 2014

Round up of February's most interesting album and single releases:


St. Vincent
ST. VINCENT - St. Vincent
TEMPLES - Sun Structures
GUIDED BY VOICES - Motivational Jumpsuit
CHEATAHS - Cheatahs
ANGEL OLSEN - Burn Your Fire for No Witness
BECK - Morning Phase
BROKEN BELLS - After The Disco
THE NOTWIST - Close To The Glass
WILD BEASTS - Present Tense
XIU XIU - Angel Guts: Red Classroom
PETER BUCK - I Am Back To Blow Your Mind Once Again
LYDIA LOVELESS - Somewhere Else
NENEH CHERRY - Blank Project
SCHOOLBOY Q - Oxymoron
HAVE A NICE LIFE - The Unnatural World
LET'S WRESTLE - Let's Wrestle
MAXIMO PARK - Too Much Information
BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB - So Long, See You Tomorrow
DAMAGED BUG - Hubba Bubba

Singles & EPs

ST. VINCENT - Digital Witness
REAL ESTATE - Talking Backwards
TEMPLES - Mesmerise
CHEATAHS - Get Tight 
WILD BEASTS - Wanderlust
GALLON DRUNK - The Dumb Room
LAKEFIELD - Swan Songs EP 
SCHOOLBOY Q - Break the Bank
NENEH CHERRY - Out Of The Black (featuring ROBYN)
CONTAINER - Adhesive
SHACKLETON - Freezing Opening Thawing EP
FUTURE ISLANDS - Seasons (Waiting For You)
SOUTHERN - Shout It / World Don't Shine
TWIN GRAVES - Walk In Circles EP
LET'S WRESTLE - Rain Ruins Revolution
MAXIMO PARK - Leave This Island
CONNAN MOCKASIN - I'm The Man, That Will Find You
NICK WATERHOUSE - This Is A Game / It No 3 

St. Vincent - Digital Witness