Presenting…Golden Void

golden-void

Another night, a way overcrowded inbox with more bloody submissions to deal with than I can bear or cope with, never mind actually listen to. One of them is from the very nice man at Thrill Jockey. KABLAM! Just one blast of Golden Void is like putting your fingers in a wall socket. In a pleasant way, of course.

Very recently signed to Thrill Jockey, San Francisco’s Golden Void are vocalist/guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, organ player Camilla Saufley, bassist Aaron Morgan and drummer/moog Justin Pinkerton. If you think Tame Impala’s ‘Elephant’ is good, the first track from the album ‘Golden Void’ blows it out of the water. Free to download below, this will quite possibly make your eyeballs melt (your ears will already have gone intergalactic).

Their self-titled debut album, which reportedly mixes ‘classic rock, blues and psych in their own unique style’ was recorded with with Phil Manley, who has also worked with the likes of Trans Am and The Fucking Champs, at Lucky Cat Studios in San Francisco. To these ears it’s thrillingly primal, think prime Black Sabbath with extra psychedelics and stoner links…

The album, artwork below, is released on November 12.

golden-void-artwork

The tracklisting is as follows:

1. Art of Invading
2. Virtue
3. Jetsun Dolma
4. Badlands
5. Shady Grove
6. The Curve
7. Atlantis

The return of Scott Walker

bish-bosh

Blimey. Not only have we had three albums from Kate Bush in the last seven years (ok, so one of them was a collection of re-workings, but substantially reworked, so we’ll count it), but Scott Walker is set to release another album, a mere six years after the last, 2006′s The Drift.

Entitled Bish Bosh, Walker started writing new material around 2009 (whilst also scoring the ROH 2’s Duet For One Voice ballet) recording it sporadically over the following three years. Bish Bosch is described as being ‘a tauter but more colourful experience than The Drift, with greater emphasis on processed, abrasive guitars, digital keyboards and thick silences.’ (This means it is unlikely to be Scott 4 part 2, in other words.)

Walker has worked with co-producer Peter Walsh and a regular core of musicians, Ian Thomas (drums), Hugh Burns (guitar), James Stevenson (guitar), Alasdair Malloy (percussion) and John Giblin (bass). Musical director Mark Warman also played a prominent role, both as conductor and keyboardist, while guests include trumpeter Guy Barker and pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole, who worked on three of Scott’s mid-seventies LPs. For tracks ‘SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)’, ‘Dimple’ and ‘Corps de Blah’, Scott drafted in an orchestra, recording them in The Hall at Air Studios last November.

This is the tracklisting for Bish Bosh, released on 4AD on December 3:

1. ‘See You Don’t Bump His Head’
2. Corps De Blah
3. Phrasing
4. SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)
5. Epizootics!
6. Dimple
7. Tar
8. Pilgrim
9. The Day The “Conducator” Died

This is ‘Clara’ from The Drift, released on 4AD in 2006. Very good, very weird and not a little scary…

Presenting…Carter Damm

carter-damm

Carter Damm are young. Carter Damm are the sound of Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys meeting on the East Coast of Scotland. Carter Damm are gigging and supported Bwani Junction at the newly re-opened Dalkeith Arts Centre last week (actually, I helped that happen. Yussss).

Carter Damm are Jess (Drums and vocals), Charlie (Bass), John (Guitar and Vocals) and brothers Duncan (Keys and Vocals) and James (Guitar and Vocals). They received their first radio play on Fresh Air in Edinburgh last month (actually, that was me too) and they will hopefully get played in a helluva lot of other places. 95% of their material is their own.

Carter Damm have recorded a three track demo, and this track ‘Clowning’ is one of my favourite tracks this year. When venues won’t let people under eighteen play, or have those sodding daft ‘play to pay schemes’ bands like them suffer.

Carter Damm -’Clowning.’

Spread the word.

Interview: Alphabet Backwards

As they gear up for the release of their debut album, Little Victories, Alphabet Backwards discuss what makes them tick…

alphabet-backwards

17 Seconds: Please introduce yourselves.

James, Josh, Steph, Paul and Rob.

17 Seconds: How did Alphabet Backwards come together?

Little P, Josh and I [James] had been in bands when we were younger and so when I started writing some songs but wanting to make them more complete they were a natural choice. Great musicians and great friends. Josh then knew Rob, as he lived in the same village, the one where Truck Festival is held and Josh also knew Steph. This time through the fact that she is his sister. I liked her voice from way back when Josh, Little P and I would practice in his living room. So, off we went on our way.

17 Seconds: Who are your influences?

They are varied as any collective of musicians is going to be. Science, our keyboard wizard is Maximo Park and Magic Numbers, whereas Josh’s influences move around. Currently he is Alt-J and Tom Waits heavy. His bass plays quite an intrinsic
part of how are songs take shape, I find. Little P and I share a love of Kings of Convenience and Erland Oye but then I also have slightly more pop influence and a simple joy of a hook. All bands who have a way with a tune.

17 Seconds: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you at a gig?

Few things here and there. On stage my guitar broke a couple years back during one of our first shows, while I was having a fix [17 Seconds assumes he means fixing his guitar, rather than injecting drugs], the rest of the guys just started playing something like ‘Play that funky music white boy,’ I think. It broke again at another venue and I was more focused on fixing it. I was told after that this random girl had got on stage, and then been moved off, Oblivious. More recently – well
weekend just past – we were in London and we had built up to ‘Elton John’ [closing track on the album]with a little french house thing but something had gone awry with the synth and the sound was different to what we were expecting and it was
pretty funny as we kinda just stopped and waited. The Brixton Windmill seemed to laugh as well, which was good. Pete Doherty once turned up at one of our shows, there should be a six degrees of Pete Doherty though like Kevin Bacon, for sure. Anyway he was not there to see us at all but his Babyshambles friend who was also playing. Frank Turner was there, too. Frank Turner’s band are a band themselves from Oxford too, called Dive Dive, their latest album was amazing.

17 Seconds: Do you read your press?

Here and there, we dont take it seriously, though. We kinda just enjoy what we do and we laugh a lot together, so why do anything else? Although good reviews and opinion makers saying you are the next big thing is always gonna help, industry wise it ain’t always about that. You have to take the best from both worlds, I think.

17 Seconds: Do you think the word ‘indie’ still means something in 2012? If so,
what?

It seems to signify a certain type of genre more than actually independent, it is thrown around like a colloquialism these days to describe a sound for the mass market. Coldplay, Snow Patrol are all “indie” but yet all on major labels. Adele is a really good indie news story. Especially for XL and PIAS who lost a lot during the riots a while back. That kinda stuff thankfully still has the back bone of the countries musical output across the world as well recently; well them and Harry Styles!

17 Seconds: Who would you most like to cover one of your songs, and which one?

Elton John doing ‘Elton John.’

17 Seconds: What are your favourite albums?

Weezer The Blue Album, James Blake James Blake, Wheat Hope and Adams, Pulp This is Hardcore, Phoenix Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

17 Seconds: If you could work with one other musical act, alive or dead, who
would it be?

I think Paul Simon. Mainly because we all share a massive love for his Graceland album, I dont want to give him all the credit for that album, though. It would be great to work with all themusicians he worked with though. Especially the guitarist, Ray Phiri, he is a true maestro of his instrument, so natural. I am sure there is some gloss added to the actual story as I know there was a lot of political unrest when it was made but it really sounds like they were having genuine fun creating and playing this music which is all we try to do.

17 Seconds: What are your plans for the next year?

Yes 2013, a new year. We will release a second single from our album and so will head out for another small tour of the Uk. It’s a collection of dates over a selected period of time more than a tour. We may head to Germany and hopefully will continue to play more and more festivals in the summer where we feel right at home.

Little Victories is out on Highline on October 1.

Interview: Paul Carrack

pcheader21

The voice of many hits for many different artists over the last forty years, and a session musician on even more, Paul Carrack has just released his latest solo album, Good Feeling. 17 Seconds finds a man who shows no signs of stopping, and who is very modest about what he has achieved in the music business.

I start by asking him about his new record. How long did he work on Good Feeling for?

‘I did it in two stints,’ he reveals. ‘I did five tracks before our last tour, and then I picked it up after the tour. Three or four months. I did it all myself,’ he says.’

I ask -as someone how has worked with a number of producers over the years -how he finds producing himself.

‘Producing’s a funny thing,’ he says refletively. Working in his own studio at home, ‘I go in and mess around until it’s ready. I play a bit of everything,’ but reveals that he doesn’t mix his albums as he feels he doesn’t have the competence (his word, not mine). He is full of praise for Robert Cobb, whose task it was to mix the album.

His first big break was in the mid-seventies, when as lead singer of Ace, he scored his first hit with ‘How Long?’ One of the few pub rock bands to make it in the states, he also had a meeting with a man called Jake Riviera which would prove fortuitous several years down the line, when the young Riviera was the roadie for another pub rock band called Chili Willi and the Red Hot Peppers. Ace went to the States – but when they came back punk and new wave was taking off. And Paul decided to work a session musician.

One of the acts that he worked with closely was the reinvigorated Roxy Music, on their hat trick of albums that was Manifesto, Flesh and Blood and Avalon. He doesn’t elaborate greatly on this period, commenting that ‘During the Roxy Music Period, I was trying to develop as a musician. The guys I respected were session muscians.’ Rather than being a full-time member of the band he says that he ‘toured with them. We were a bit sniffy about playing with Roxy Music, we thought of ourselves as jazz and blues players.’

Nevertheless, the session work continued. He knew producer John Porter, who was working on the debut album by a then emerging Manchester band called The Smiths. ‘Just the one session!’ he explains. He also played with The Pretenders around the same time, featuring on the single ‘Thin Line Between Love And Hate’ from their third album Learning To Crawl.

But he also joined another established band, Squeeze, featuring as lead vocalist on one of their best known songs ‘Tempted.’ I ask if he was Squeeze’s first choice to replace Joolz Holland.

‘No, I was the last port of call!’ he laughs. At the time, Squeeze had split from their then-manager Miles Copeland -then riding high with The Police (for who his brother Stewart was the drummer). Jake Riviera – the one-time roadie for Chili Willi- had by now been involved with setting up Stiff Records and becoming Elvis Costello’s manager. Incidentally, the latter was producing the Squeeze album East Side Story. ‘It was Elvis’ call,’ he remembers, of the decision for him to take lead on ‘Tempted.’ ‘Squeeze had already recorded a version with Dave Edmunds that sounded like Supertramp!’ Although he left Squeeze after East Side Story, he returned to the fold for the Some Fanatastic Place album in the nineties, and returned once more to sing ‘Tempted’ on the Spot The Difference album in 2010.

But, despite the number of acts that he has worked with, he’s keen to point out that ‘the stuff that represents me is the solo stuff,’ and indeed he has had a career as a solo artist since the early 1980s. With Good Feeling featuring him holding a guitar, I ask if he considers himself more of a guitarist or keyboardist.

‘Well, I started out on drums!’ he explains, ‘then I sold my drums to buy an organ. I play more guitar live, it’s less of a barrier!’ He’s modest enough to describe himself as a ‘Jack Of All Trades’ but it’s clear that as a singer, musician and songwriter he’s certainly seen and done a lot over the past four decades, and that he’s happiest plying his trade as Paul Carrack, producing his own brand of blue-eyes soul.

Good Feeling is out now on Carrack-UK.

Presenting…Tame Impala

tameimpala_maciekpozoga-6newmainmed

Yes, so Tame Impala sound utterly retro. When you watch the video for current single ‘Elephant’ it looks like something that was put together to be shown on VH1 Classic.

Thing is, the single ‘Elephant’ sounds brilliant. Like it’s 1975 or something, in the best possible way!

elephant_pack

Here’s that video…

…and if you’re going to be retro, then you go the whole hig and get Todd Rundgren to remix the single, right>

Their new album Lonerism is out in October and the tracklisting is as follows:

1. Be Above It
2. Endors Toi
3. Apocalypse Dreams
4. Mind Mischief
5. Music To Walk Home By
6. Why Won’t They Talk To Me?
7. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
8. Keep On Lying
9. Elephant
10. She Just Won’t Believe Me
11. Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control
12. Sun’s Coming Up

Album Review: Sea & Cake

sea-and-cake

Sea and Cake ‘Runner.’ (Thrill Jockey)

It’s funny, I think I always expected The Sea and Cake to sound more difficult than they actually do. That somehow, by being from Chicago, and being on a painfully cool label like Thrill Jockey, they’d be really heavy going, or something (I don’t know why, I’ve never got further west in the states than New Jersey). But the reality is, they are a very easy band to love.

This is actually their tenth album. And on it, they sound remarkably fresh, when some bands seem to run out of ideas (or people to rip off!) after about half a dozen songs. The effect of this album -which I have played several times – is that of a pleasant sunny day, not too hot, but one that lifts you rigtht up. And when it’s yet another rainy day in Scotland, well God knows we need that…

So it’s a leftfield sort of pop meets electronica, and the tracks like ‘Harps’ and ‘On and On’ that have been doing the rounds for a while now giving a good insight into what the album is like.

A welcome addition to your life.

****

Runner is out now on Thrill Jockey.

Presenting…Shy & Drs

shy-and-drs

First of all, it’s pronounced Shy and D.R.S. You can read the story of how they came to be right here.

I’ve championed quite a few Scottish hip-Hop acts before -and Aberdeen’s Shy and DRS are another act I’m proud to throw my support behind. Their debut single ‘The Love Is Gone’ (released through Guardian Angels/Universal) comes out on October 8. On paper it shouldn’t work at all – it features a sample from Marillion’s ‘Kayleigh’ and the vocal talents of Sandi Thom. But this time -instead of a complete misunderstanding of punks and flowes – it sounds awesome!

Their debut album will be released in January and features both D-12 (Eminem’s band) and Scottish rockers Nazareth.

Check out the video for ‘The Love Is Gone’ below:

Gig Review: Stanley Odd

Stanley Odd
Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh, September 21.

I had seen Scottish hip-hop group Stanley Odd two times previously, both of which felt slightly surreal due to their circumstances – at a folk music festival and a pub.

Every show they have played has been excellent, with unhindered energy and excitement from the band, even with a lack of response from the crowd. However, this gig at Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms proved to be something special. The crowd came to see the band, knew the songs and were all for bouncing to the beat of the music. The band was there to promote their new album Reject with songs like ‘Get Out Ma Headspace’, which sounded great, but still managed to get a few fan-favourites such as ‘The Numbness’ throughout the performance.

Stanley Odd have never failed to put on a great show that I have seen, and now with two album’s worth of material under their belt and a growing fan base, future shows should show exponential growth in terms of confidence and energy which will be reflected in the crowd’s reaction. Definitely a band to keep an eye on!

Many thanks to Michael Todd who wrote this review.

Presenting…Carlos Cipa

carlos-cipa

It was pouring with rain in Scotland today. Driving home in the car from work, Myself, Mrs. 17 Seconds and Son 17 Seconds were listening to one of the many submissions I have received over the last wee while. It was something that really made us all listen, and captured the rain perfectly.

This time, it was not another confessional singer-songwriter, an angsty/angry shouty group or a bunch of hipsters. It was the debut album by one Carlos Cipa, entitled The Monarch And The Viceroy (****1/2).

Carlos Cipa is a classically trained musician and composer, currently residing in Munich (Germany) where he is currently studying composition. Reportedly, at the age of 6 he began taking classical piano lessons with various renowned teachers.

He signed to the German experimental music label Denovali Records in early 2012. He lists Satie and Debussy amongst his influences – and I think I can hear some Michael Nyman in there, too. If you think you don’t like classical music, that’s your loss. But if you enjoy David Sylvian and the latter Talk Talk albums (1988 onwards) maybe you can open your mind to this, too.

There’s no mp3s for downloading, but try these two videos for size…

…and you can stream these two tracks, too.