Parcels – this year’s summer anthem?

Australian-born and Berlin-based band Parcels may very well be responsible for this summer’s anthem.

Listener’s to their track ‘Overnight’ may well hear a similarity to 2013’s summer anthem ‘Get Lucky’ (which was 2013’s Festive Fifty no.1). Australian band Parcels aren’t particularly well-known in the UK at the moment. ‘Overnight’ was produced by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo – aka Daft Punk, the same act responsible for ‘Get Lucky.’ There’s no denying that the two French legends contribute to the magic made available for your ears here.

It’s  clear if you check out Parcels’ Hideout EP from earlier this year (which you can do at the bottom of this post) that the vibe of chilled music for the dancefloor with Nile Rogers-style choppy guitars is still Parcels. No doubt that’s why it’s credited to Parcels – even if a Daft Punk credit in the name might grab people’s attention more immediately. Put simply ‘Overnight’ is a genius piece of pop music, for the heart and the feet. You’ll hear it on the dancefloors, out of every other car window, from the mobile phones of the kids down your local park. Who knows, even your local radio station with the really conservative playlist will probably get behind it (once it’s charted, obviously).

That aforementioned, earlier EP

Special thanks to Liam O’Hare who tipped me off about this track in the first place.

Foo Fighters announce new album

As mentioned earlier on this month, the Foo Fighters have released a new track and video, entitled ‘Run.’ Now ahead of their Glastonbury performance this Sunday, they have announced their latest album Concrete and Gold.

The band’s ninth album will be released on September 15. The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. T-Shirt

2. Run

3. Make It Right

4. The Sky Is A Neighborhood

5. La Dee Da

6. Dirty Water

7. Arrows

8. Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)

9. Sunday Rain

10. The Line

11. Concrete and Gold

The album was written and performed by the Foo Fighters, produced by Dave Grohl and Dave Kirstin of The Bird & The Bee, who has also worked with Adele, Sia and P!nk.

Just because the video for ‘Run’ is so damn good, here it is again.

The album artwork can be seen below:

 

 

 

Album Review – Ride

Ride – ‘Weather Diaries’ (Wichita)

Legendary shoegazers Ride first reformed back in 2014, but Weather Diaries is their first studio album since 1996’s Tarantula. That album, pretty much released simultaneously with their dissolution, came out on Creation. Ride had been Creation’s first chart-bothering act, but one has to wonder how many of their label mates felt put into the shade when Oasis went, umm, supersonic in 1994.

Ask Ride fans what their favourite album is, and people will still staunchly defend one album over another. For my money, their debut Nowhere is still their best, and the first four EPs (Ride, Play, Fall and Today Forever)  that were released around that. It’s telling that this album’s opening track ‘Lannoy Point’ sounds like it could have been from Ride’s first twelve months.

The first four tracks are strong, and  ‘All I Want’ and ‘Home Is A Feeling’ have already been released building up to the albums. It’s reminiscent of how Ride were always capable of rocking or jangling, rather than simply producing the shoegazing journalistic sonic cathedrals of sound. The album’s been produced by Erol Alkan, who’s done a fantastic job of it. 

What is disappointing, though, is that it feels that the album does drop a bit when it reaches the title track, perhaps the weakest point on the album. It does seem to take a while to pick up again. There has been some criticism that the album hasn’t been sequenced in the best way – the closing track ‘White Sands’ somehow feels like an odd finish; while it’s beautiful, it doesn’t seem to feel like a proper ending.

However, this is a comeback album that mostly succeeds. While it may not win them huge quantities of new fans, it will certainly delight the many who fell for them all those years ago.

***1/2

Weather Diaries is out now on Wichita

 

 

Album Review – Can: The Singles (Mute)

Album Review – Cigarettes After Sex

Cigarettes After Sex -‘Cigarettes After Sex.’ (Partisan Records)

In the year that two of the British shoegazing acts of the 1990s, Ride and Slowdive, release their first albums in over two decades, along come an American act from the same ilk to give us a debut album that suggests that the sound the Americans dubbed dreampop is continuing to produce absolutely wonderful sounds. There’s also echoes of slow-core type bands like Low and Mazzy Star, with a nod to the 1980s 4AD roster of acts like the Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil with the shimmering melancholy within.

That’s not to dismiss Cigarettes After Sex as some kind of retro sound. This is a fresh take on it all, and the first thing that draws you in is the androgynous voice of Greg Gonzalez. It’s slow and dreamy music, with a definite noir undertone- as if David Lynch had decided that a shoegaze-dreampop band was needed for one of his projects.

A number of the tracks on this album have been doing the rounds for a while – opening track ‘K’ first appeared as a single back in late 2015 – but the reality is a very cohesive whole, without a duff track among them. Even more reassuring in this age of streaming is how this is an album that can be played from start to finish, with ‘Each Time You Fall In Love’ and ‘John Wayne’ amongst the highlights.

Without wishing to descend into hyperbole, I genuinely expect this album to do well on the year-end lists (hey! Don’t you realise we’re going to have to start thinking about this when summer’s over?) and it will deserve to be there. To paraphrase Wilco, I can’t help wondering if they are trying to break listeners’ hearts. But what a soundtrack to be heartbroken to…

****

Ice Cube: Good Cop, Bad Cop’ – angry, timely – and very good indeed

Ice Cube is shortly to release a 25th anniversary edition of his Death Certificate album, complete with three new songs. (Actually it came out in 1991, but let’s not split hairs.) One of those three new songs is the utterly astounding ‘Good Cop Bad Cop’.
Over an infectious horn loop that’s married to drums that sound…urgent, Ice takes on police corruption and brutality and how tackling this in 2017 is as urgent as when he started performing 30 years ago: “Black Lives Matter/It’s not chit chatter/Cause all they wanna do is scatter brain matter/A mind is a terrible thing to waste/A nine is terrible in your face.” This has the potential to be his biggest crossover hit since ‘It Was A Good Day’.

Ice Cube has been upfront in this being a ‘Fuck Da Police’ for 2017. Speaking to Zane Lowe, he said: “We [NWA] had done ‘Fuck tha Police’ so many years ago…with the emergence of Straight Outta Compton the movie, we realized that it’s still the same thing that’s going on. We needed a more up-to-date version of the community talking to the police and the authorities.”

This is angry, timely, pertinent – and very good indeed.

 

Album Review – Profusion

Profusion -‘Where Do I Begin?’ (First Word Records)

Profusion is a collaboration between K15, or Kieron Ifil, and Emeson. It’s fair to say that this title is accurate – and hopefully the beginning of a beautiful (musical) partnership, to slightly misquote Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca.

A collaboration in the sense that both men have great pedigrees and achievements already before this record came into being. K15 has a track record of working in different forms such as house, jazz, soul, hip-hop and techno. Even if you’ve never heard these projects, they have all rubbed off on this album. Emeson has also worked across a multitude of genres and is also a successful actor, having appeared in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and various Marvel comic adaptations to name but a few projects.

Of course, absolutely none of this would matter if the end result wasn’t so damn brilliant. It starts with that sense of questioning what lies within from the album cover, in the first instance. Just as Marvin Gaye looks out at the rain on the cover of his seminal album What’s Going On, so here the two men look out at the world as if deciding their next move(s).

In writing this review I’ve listened to this album no less than five times. Not because it didn’t grab on first listen (it most certainly did) – but I felt I had to check what my ears were telling me. That here is an album that melds all manner of music – from jazz to hip-hop to drum’n’bass and electronica, ultimately coming up with an album that is, above all, soulful. It feels utterly contemporary, whilst drawing on a range of influences that might loosely be termed ‘urban.’

Whether it’s the title track, which opens the album and draws you in from the word go, or the heartbreaking ‘Time’s Up,’ Emeson’s voice is one that both commands and soothes. Married to K15’s beats, melodies and productions, this is not just a collaboration, it’s a connection. It’s not to say that it will make a connection with everyone – metalheads and indie-landfill lovers may not find much on here that will grab ’em.

To these ears, this is a record which is for the heart and feet, to chill to on summer days (good luck with that for our UK readers!) or snuggle up with on winter nights. It feels like it is a continuing lineage of a number of classic records – Massive Attack‘s Blue Lines and The Streets‘ Original Pirate Material, certainly, with nods to both Burial and Zero 7.

There are some moments which seem to perhaps go on a little longer than need be, a smoothness that heard out of context might commit the aesthetic crime of being ‘soundtrack to a middle-class dinner party.’ Whoever’s listening is almost certainly in for a treat.

This hasn’t had the hugest amount of exposure and coverage from what I can see from the web…yet. But the – dammit – utterly bloody brilliance of the whole thing is something that could well be a critical and commercial hit.

And that’s where you come in, dear listener.

****1/2

Where Do I Begin? is out now on First Word Records

 

 

 

Foo Fighters unleash brilliant video for ‘Run’

I guess like a lot of people, my initial interest in the Foo Fighters was because Dave Grohl had been in Nirvana. I bought the debut album the week the self-titled debut came out in 1995 (if memory serves, the day before school finished for me for ever) and I’ve enjoyed them on their own terms ever since.

In the last week they’ve unveiled a new song ‘ Run’ and not only is it a fabulous song, but the video is fantastic.  With a sentiment about getting old but not taking any crap that hasn’t been shown so much since Pulp‘s ‘Help The Aged’ (bloody hell, that’s 20 years old now as well), the six-minute-plus promo sees the now six-piece showing that there’s no harm to be had in rocking out, and taking no prisoners while they do it. Without wishing to give too much away, the band feature as part of a bunch of elderly miscreants who cause havoc in a church before carjacking some kids. As you do. Pipe and slippers can wait.

As the birthday cards say ‘Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional.’ Damn skipper!

 

Getting stoked for Ride’s comeback album

I wrote a few months ago about how excited I was about the return of Ride. Their first album for twenty-one years, Weather Diaries, will be released on June 16.

I’ve previously posted two tracks that were available from the album, ‘Charm Assault’ and ‘Home Is A Feeling.’ Having not been able to write much during the last few months (loooonnng story) I didn’t post ‘All I Want’, also taken from the forthcoming album, but now I do…

…along with the remix of the track done by GLOK (AKA Ride’s Andy Bell), which clocks in at ten minutes long, and is also rather fine in its own right.

 

Ride will be touring England and Scotland in November, the dates are as follows, and tickets are available from tomorrow (June 7). :

Tuesday 7th Nov London Forum Kentish Town
Wednesday 8th Nov Birmingham O2 Institute
Thursday 9th Nov Bristol SWX
Friday 10th Nov Leeds Beckett Student Union
Sunday 12th Nov Liverpool Academy
Monday 13th Nov Newcastle Boiler Shop
Tuesday 14th Nov Edinburgh Queens Hall

Placebo update ’80s art classic

Lots of bands have strange evolutions over time – and Talk Talk went from being possible rivals to Duran Duran in 1982 to ambient art-rockers over the course of their five studio albums over the next decade.

Placebo, meanwhile, may have emerged around the same time as the Britpop crowd, but they’re still going strong over twenty years later, without having had to cross over to the comeback/nostalgia trail.

Placebo have just unveiled the video for their version of Talk Talk’s 1986 hit ‘Life’s What You Make It,‘ which probably remains Talk Talk’s best known song. Placebo’s Brian Molko had a concept in mind that was loosely based around the original 1986 Talk Talk video that was shot at night on London’s Wimbledon Common. Directed by Tim Pope – most famous for his work with The Cure – the video featured the band surrounded by nature, complete with, as Molko puts it, little beasties crawling over leaves. Brian felt that there could be an updated version, where the band would be robots playing instruments and that e-waste would replace nature, as it appears to be doing only a few decades after the song’s original release. The brief that the band put out to prospective directors was short, simple and open to interpretation: e-waste, please!” 

The only response they got was from Sasha Rainbow. The resulting video was shot in Agbogbloshie, a former wetland in the heart of Accra, in Ghana, which is home to one of the world’s largest electronic waste dumps. It sets an apocalyptic backdrop of first-world waste against the daily lives of those who inhabit this thoroughly otherworldly space.

She explains: “The two boys in the film live in this extraordinary place, which for me, highlights a human’s ability to adapt with incredible strength, resilience, and humanity.” She adds: “I hoped to capture the environment in a dreamily meditative way that would at once juxtapose and yet synergise with the theme of the song, and glimpse at part of the repercussions of our current technological revolution. On the one hand, technology is enabling us to create things beyond our wildest imagination, and yet little discussion has been had about what to do with all our discarded e-waste.”

Placebo will also be on tour in the UK in October:

Sat 7  Edinburgh Usher Hall
Sun 8  Dundee Caird Hall
Tue 10  Doncaster Dome
Wed 11  Blackpool Empress Ballroom
Fri 13 Reading Rivermead
Sat 14  Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Mon 16 Portsmouth Guildhall
Tue 17  Swindon Oasis
Fri 20  Plymouth Pavilions
Sat 21 Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Mon 23  London O2 Brixton Academy