Categories
Indie Rock

The Illness – Descending G (w/ Steve West) & Phrase Redacted (w/ Bob Nastanovich)

The Illness (& their label Sea Records) are from my neck of the woods (York, UK) so I was pleasantly surprised to see that their new 12″ single features collaborations with Pavement alumni Steve West & Bob Nastanovich. As a huge Pavement fan, this definitely caught my attention.

Descending G is just the kind of fuzzy, melodic Indie Rock that I love. It is my cup of tea. The steady four to the floor kick drum rhythm underpins Descending G nicely & the layers of distorted guitar & rumbling bass propel it forward. There’s a Krautrock motorik feel to the rhythms. Steve Wests low, mournful vocal is reminiscent of another member of Pavement’s extended family, the late, great DAvid Berman. The opening line especially reminds me of the opening to David Berman’s final album, 2019’s Purple Mountains. Unlike Berman’s music as therapy though, Descending G is upbeat, fun & emotional. Great video too.

Phrase Redacted starts with a dog barking before dropping into more motorik drumming with a steady, solid bass line to match. The guitars are melodic & atmospheric, creating a warm, lush soundscape with the accompanying synth parts. Bob Nastanovich’s vocals are a kind of speak singing, poetry recital style. It’s fun & informal sounding. You can tell he’s really enjoying himself & this style of vocal fits really well with the Krautrock rhythms.

Descending G/Phrase Redacted is available now, digitally, on Bandcamp & is available to pre-order from Bandcamp or Sea Records’ webshop.

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Categories
Videogames

Super Mario World (1990)

For the first time since I was a teenager I have just played through Super Mario World, for the SNES, from 1990. It’s a fun but challenging game that I heartily recommend. It is widely available today on the SNES mini, Nintendo Switch, 3DS &, if all else fails, I’m sure you can find a SNES emulator & a ROM of the game. I played it on the Nintendo Switch.

One thing I really enjoy about the end of the game is the montage of screenshots which form the ending sequence & give names to all of the enemies you have fought throughout the game, up to & including Bowser himself. Check them out.

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Categories
Indie Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain): Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Day 12 – a fairly straight forward connection today. Neutral Milk Hotel’s masterpiece In The Aeroplane Over The Sea was released on Merge Records, the label set up by Superchunk to release their, and their friends, music.

The album’s title track is, perhaps, the best known tune by Neutral Milk Hotel. A simple, sweet acoustic Folk song with added brass &, unusually, a musical, singing saw. It’s a song about loss and learning to deal with mortality & the inevitability of things just ending. Sad, sweet & beautiful. Unfortunately, there isn’t an official video, or many good videos of it being played live, so I am just using this audio clip. I’ll add a couple of good performance videos (but with terrible sound quality) at the bottom of this post.

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all ’round the sun
What a beautiful dream
That could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
Soft and sweet
Let me hold it close and keep it here with me

And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be
In the arms of all I’m keeping here with me

What a curious life we have found here tonight
There is music that sounds from the street
There are lights in the clouds
Anna’s ghost all around
Hear her voice as it’s rolling and ringing through me
Soft and sweet
How the notes all bend and reach above the trees

Now how I remember you
How I would push my fingers through
Your mouth to make those muscles move
That made your voice so smooth and sweet
But now we keep where we don’t know
All secrets sleep in winter clothes
With one you loved so long ago
Now he don’t even know his name

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all ’round the sun
And when we meet on a cloud
I’ll be laughing out loud
I’ll be laughing with everyone I see
Can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Electronic Music Experimental

Shameless Self Promotion: Home Taper – Satellites EP

In addition to the compilation of old material I released earlier in the week, I’ve just released this new EP of material produced between 2017-2019.

Check it out on your digital distribution or streaming platform of choice or Bandcamp. Cheers.

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Categories
Indie Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain): Superchunk – Driveway To Driveway

Day 11. I’ve just realised another link between the previous two songs which I didn’t click on to at the time. The Delgados song & Miss Modular by Stereolab were both released on each band’s own record label. The Delgados on Chemikal Underground & Stereolab on Duophonic Records. By way of apology (to myself) I’ve decided to make that the link to todays Song of the Day.

Superchunk formed Merge Records in 1989 as a means of releasing music by themselves & their friends bands. 1994’s Driveway To Driveway is a bona fide Alternative Rock anthem & it’s criminal how little known (outside of the bands considerable cult following, anyway) it is today. It’s hard to ignore the feeling that, if signed to a major label (& the industrial marketing machinery associated with the majors), Driveway To Driveway may have achieved Smells Like Teen Spirit levels of chart success.

I still have briars in my clothes
Did I lay you down in those?
The names on the stones were all erased
And I thought it was you that I had chased

Driveway to driveway drunk
I don’t remember this too well
Glad I have the scrapes to prove
Prove it was me who fell

And the names were all we knew
And the names were all erased
From stage to stage we flew
A drink in every hand

My hand on your heart had been replaced
And I thought it was you that I had chased
Driveway to driveway drunk
I don’t remember this too well

Glad I have the scrapes to prove
Prove it was me who fell
And the names were all we knew
And the names were all erased

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Blues Folk Rock And Roll

‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ – Bob Dylan (With Just A hint Of Mayhem)

Hey check out my review of Bob Dylan’s new album, Rough And Rowdy Ways on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem.

“Today and tomorrow and yesterday, too The flowers are dying like all things do” Thus begins Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album. His first of new material …

‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ – Bob Dylan
Categories
Indie Rock Song of the Day Synth Pop

Song of the Day (The Chain): Stereolab – Miss Modular

Day 10. I’m kind of hoping that you’re scratching your heads & wondering what the link between Pull The Wires From The Wall by The Delgados & Miss Modular by Stereolab is. This one is a bit more obscure than the previous links.

Basically, throughout his career as a radio DJ, John Peel compiled an annual best of the year list which he called his Festive Fifty. These lists have their own cult following online & fans back in the day would tape Festive Fifty rundowns straight from the radio, the tapes becoming treasured cultural artefacts in a manner it’s difficult to explain here in 2020.

Pull The Wires From The Wall by The Delgados was number 27 in John Peels 1997 Festive Fifty. One space higher, at number 26, was Miss Modular by Stereolab. So from dreamy, quirky Alternative Rock we go to the sunny Synth Pop melodies of Stereolab’s Miss Modular.

Sur la boite cartonnee un trompe-l’oeil
Avoue volontiers qu’il est trompe-l’oeil.
Sur la boite cartonnee un trompe-l’oeil
Avoue volontiers qu’il est trompe-l’oeil,

Donne l’idee do jeu et do mystere,
Un spectacle intime donne l’idee do jeu et de l’humour,
Spectacle qui rime, qui suscite dans les yeux un eclair,
Une decouverte, une idee qui peut jouer des tours,
Une muse, certes, donne l’idee do jeu et do mystere,
Un spectacle intime.

Sur la boite cartonnee un trompe-l’oeil
Avoue volontiers qu’il est trompe-l’oeil.
Sur la boite cartonnee un trompe-l’oeil
Avoue volontiers qu’il est trompe-l’oeil.

Miss Modular

On the cased box a trompe l’oeil
Confesses willingly that it is trompe l’oeil.
On the cased box a trompe l’oeil
Confesses willingly that it is trompe l’oeil,Gives the idea of the game and the mystery,
An intimate spectacle gives the idea of the game and the humor,
Spectacle that rhymes, that arouses on the eyes a flash,
A discovery, an idea that can play tricks,
A muse, admittedly, gives the idea of the game and the mystery,
An intimate spectacle.On the cased box a trompe l’oeil
Confesses willingly that it is trompe l’oeil.
On the cased box a trompe l’oeil
Confesses willingly that it is trompe l’oeil.

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Electronic Music Experimental

Naomi Perera/Adam Langley – Strata

Naomi Perera & Adam Langley are ordinarily a gigging, live performance based outfit. Naomi plays imaginative, improvised flute over Adam’s evolving soundscapes of bubbling, swelling electronics.

Strata is the sound of these two musicians, who would normally work together in person, isolated apart by the current pandemic. This is a science of file swapping & overdubbing, one improvising along to what the other has produced. The results are an excellent EP of experimental drone textures.

There are moments in the tracks on Strata when the breathy flute melodies seem to morph into bubbling arpeggios of synth noise & you’re left uncertain whether what you’re hearing is a synthesised sound or the flute. These moments are incredibly effective, in my opinion, the textures overlapping in transcendent swells of noise.

Embedded in the soundscapes are all manner of day-to-day sounds such as birdsong & the mumbled conversations of neighbours heard through the walls. These sounds add to sense of isolation experienced during the lockdown & strikingly emphasise that we are actually at home & not in a recording studio.

The combination of these warm tones (bassy synth swells & flute) with harsh, buzzing, digital sounds gives several of the tracks a sense of underlying, building menace. This reflects for me the way the Coronavirus pandemic slowly built in seriousness throughout the month of March before the full blown bleakness of lockdown. There’s an almost hauntological aspect to these sonic textures that I can’t quite put my finger on but, nevertheless, I’m utterly captivated by.

Categories
Indie Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain): The Delgados – Pull The Wires From The Wall

Day 9. Mogwai’s early material, including Come On Die Young, was released on the excellent Chemikal Underground record label. The label was set up & run by the dream, Alt Rock band, The Delgados. Although they never saw the same levels of success as fellow Chemikal artists, The Delgados did manage to gather a fair cult following.

Pull The Wires From The Wall is taken from The Delgados excellent sophomore album Peloton. This album came out the year I turned 16 & therefore was a pretty big deal in the development of my musical tastes. A band with two singers, the main vocals on Pull The Wires From The Wall are performed & written by guitarist Emma Pollock.

Creeping round my house at dawn
I’ll keep my curtains closed
If you’re feeling fond of feeling wrong
Fully clothed
For a second time you’re on my mind
Planted on this still
You forget I do not pay in kind
Kind’s not there 
For the eyes to see through
All that I do

For instance I don’t have to try
I’m falling over all the right lines
We only have to leave this last
Resist all falling at the wrong times

Safe in knowledge, safe in college
I know all there is to know
To have never stepped outside this ring
Fools they flow
For the self-assured I have no cure
I only wish I was
As my entertaining thoughts grow fewer
Stills my causeFor the eyes to see through
All that I doFor instance I don’t have to try
I’m falling over all the right lines
We only have to leave this last
Resist all falling at the wrong times

For the accent, for the day (don’t walk just swim)
For the incidents they’ll happen and they’ll happen anyway (it’s gonna pass)
When you leave here, leave this way (one last request)
You are far enough to be impressed
But not so far to be depressed
Drink your souvenirs and go your way
For instance I don’t have to try
I’m falling over all the right lines
We only have to leave this last
Resist all falling at the wrong times
For instance I don’t have to try
I’m falling over all the right lines
We only have to leave this last
Resist all falling at the wrong times.

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Indie Rock Overlooked Classics

Overlooked Classics: The Delgados – Peloton

After listening to Peloton, you’re left with impressions of tweeness & Pop sensibilities which seem to overshadow, in your mind, the actual record.

There is, in actuality, a fair bit of heavyweight, distorted guitar riffing on Peloton. Take for instance the Post-Rock influenced, Yo La Tengo-esque Grunge thrash of Repeat Failure. Its blistering noise is, nevertheless, infused with melodic pleasantness. Or the quiet/loud dynamics of the New Wave tinged College Rock of Russian Orthodox. Even gentler tracks tend to have sections of excitable stompbox shredding to propel them along.

There are also touches of less abrasive psychedelia like the madcap antics of Blackpool. Moody Post Rock bass lines amble alongside Syd Barrett style Psych rhythms. There’s a sound collage feel to it too, which feels alien on an otherwise very organic sounding album.

One key impression that Peloton gives is one of dreaminess. They sit sonically somewhere between fellow Scots Belle and Sebastian & Shoegaze/Dream Pop heavyweights Slowdive. This is especially prominent in some of the pleasant harmonising between singers Alan Woodward & Emma Pollock, like on the transcendent Twee Popper Pull The Wires From The Wall or superb opener Everything Goes Around The Water.

Melodically, Peloton sits in a unique place. Off-kilter, almost childlike, Pop melodies which seem to draw liberally from both of the key influences I’ve mentioned, Slowdives Dream Pop & the Twee Pop of Belle and Sebastian. There are echoes of what many know as Britpop here. The daytime Radio One vibes of And So The Talking Stopped or the Shine Compilation swagger of stellar closer, The Weaker Argument Defeats The Stronger.

You can probably tell from the song titles that I’ve mentioned so far that they love a good long title, especially for a band whose album titles are typically brief: Peloton & Hate, for example. I think it was probably these long winded, verbally clever titles which first drew me to the band. I’m sure The Weaker Argument Defeats The Stronger was the first song of theirs I heard (on a free magazine CD or Tape) & encouraged me to buy this excellent album.

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