Monochrome Set -‘Maisieworld.’ (Tapete)
“…Playful vocals sing of your frail organic nature, the sad dreams and hopes that you entertain, and the dismal decisions you make. Scenes of a different imagination tear you like brittle canvas and rearrange your portrait into another’s fantasy.
Upon your exit from Maisieworld, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that your vessel is now filled with abnormal thoughts.
Caution : May contain nuts. And bolts.”
Excerpt from press release.
…Of course, I’m not here to review the press release, but it does give some idea of the world in which you enter here…
This year marks forty years since the Monochrome Set formed. Led by Ganesh ‘Bid’ Seshadri, they rose out of the ashes of the B-Sides, which had included Stuart Goddard (the future Adam Ant).
This is, perhaps surprisingly, their fourteenth studio album. It’s a great insight into what makes them distinctive as a band. While I wouldn’t want people to cherry pick what they listen to on this album (c’mon people, it’s all of 33 minutes long! Find the time, as Five Star once sang), there are highlights on this record. ‘Stage Fright,’ the opening ‘Give Me Your Youth’ and the wonderfully titled (and ever so slightly sinister sounding) ‘Oh, Yes, I’m Going To Be In Your Dreams Tonight.’ Sounding so different to almost anything you will hear on mainstream radio as to be from a different planet (and all the better for it) these songs hold their own up against the songs of what is now decades ago like ‘The Monochrome Set’ and ‘Jet Set Junta.’ There are – unquestionably- people who can explain in more depth than I can about what is ver Set’s best work, but this is as good as any place to start with their work. The oft-repeated John Peel cliche about The Fall that they were always different, always the same applies to the Monochrome Set. It’s an equal successor to the band’s last record, 2016’s Cosmonaut.
It’s not just that it’s different from so much out there that makes this an entrancing listen. Sure, it’s not a groundbreaking record, but this is a great collection of songs and and attendant sounds. It’s somehow very reassuring that in this uncertain world that Bid and co. continue to produce their slightly quirky songs, a connection to a time when indie meant independent, as opposed to meat and two veg formulaic guitar work, as is so often the case. While members may have wondered why the former Stuart Goddard had much greater commercial success than they, four decades along, there’s still consistently great work coming from the Monochrome Set. There have been splits and hiatuses along the way, but whether the next album is two or ten years away, there’s a strong likelihood it will be worth the wait.
Maisieworld is out now on Tapete
Last year, I was very impressed by a track from a South London duo called Sista Strange. Still in their teens they are Chariz Calanday and Jesley Faye Fantolgo. Writing about ‘Friday Evening’ I commented ‘I hear electronica, soul, hip-hop and drum’n’bass, served up as a kick-ass tune.‘
It still is, take note. Somehow I missed out on the slightly darker-sounding ‘Lust’ – but I’m enjoying making up for lost time. You should, too.
In the last week, they have unveiled ‘Ride’ which shows that they have developed further. In what seems to be -charmingly – typical of the Sista Strange sound, it goes places you don’t expect. Not least because my first thought was ‘Wow! They’ve gone more soulful on this one.’ It is, however, like a much needed ray of sunshine in this freezing cold weather. Utterly fantastic.
I cannot claim to be any sort of expert about Ezra Furman. I do know that I really enjoy both of his last two albums Perpetual Motion People and Transangelic Exodus. The latter was released this last Friday just gone. I’m still getting my head around it – it’s absolutely brilliant, though. As in: I would be happy to spend my own money on it, and be thrilled.
So, instead I will point you in the direction of the very nice Loz Etheridge at my other writing gig, God Is In The TV, and you can read his excellent review there.
I don’t think it’s either controversial nor too early to say this album will be cropping up on end of year lists. This video for ‘Driving Down To L.A.’ is worth seeing on its own…
…and you should stream the whole album below:
Having championed them on this blog since 2007, every time there is a new Broken Records release I want to get up and cheer. Should a forty-something man behave this way? Ach, who cares. Broken Records will shortly release their fourth album What We Might Know, on March 30.
The first track from the album is entitled ‘They Won’t Ever Leave Us Alone’ – and whether or not you have seen the video or heard the track, you can view it just here:
The band will be playing the following tour dates:
March 31 – Lexington, London
April 21 – Church, Dundee
April 26 – Summerhall, Edinburgh
April 27 – Tolbooth, Stirling
April 28 – Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
The album cover looks like this…
…and the album tracklist is as follows:
- They Won’t Ever Leave Us Alone
- Let The Right One In
- Open Ground
- The Inbetween
- Perfect Hollow Love
- When All Of This Is Done
- So Free
- Someday You’ll Remember Me
- What We Might Know
Ohio Players – The Definitive Collection (Cherry Red)
It is absolutely no reflection on the quality of the music produced, but by and large, Ohio Players are mainly known for three things in the UK. The single ‘Who’d She Coo’ which reached no.43 in 1976, the song ‘Love Rollercoaster’ (which became a top ten hit in Britain for the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and the fact that their song ‘Fopp’ gave the record chain their name. All three tracks are here – but there’s so much more.
This 46-track compilation is pretty comprehensive, divided into three chapters: ‘The Early Years,’ ‘The Golden Years’ and ‘The Later & Solo Years.’ The band were hugely successful in the mid seventies in the US – but even that had been a long time coming.
The first disc starts with the fabulous ‘Here Today and Gone Tomorrow’ (later covered by David Bowie on his Diamond Dogs tour). This track, with its echoes of Smokey Robinson and Sam Cooke, came from the band’s debut album Observations In Time, released in 1969. This was a decade after the group had formed in Dayton, Ohio. A series of singles (not included here were issued throughout the sixties, and over the course of their lifetime the band were signed to a number of labels. Amongst other things they backed Wilson Pickett on ‘I Found A Love.’
Observations was only a regional hit, and it was a couple of label changes later before the band had their first hit single and album Pain. The first disc also includes ‘Funky Worm’ – a big US hit that was later sampled numerous times by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube and Snoop Doggy Dogg, amongst many others.
Dubbing the second disc ‘The Golden Years’ is accurate in terms of both American commercial success and just how essential they’d become – these are tracks that hold their own against the likes of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Funkadelic who were all firing on all creative cylinders at this time. As well as the aforementioned likes of ‘Fire,’ ‘Coo’ and ‘Rollercoaster’ there’s the gorgeous ‘Sweet Sticky Thing’ – taken from the album Honey (but of course!) and ‘O-H-I-O.’
The final disc may sound like it’s preparing you for a let down – but it doesn’t. The band were evolving, even if their commercial fortunes may have been on the wane – and two noteworthy cover versions of Otis Redding-popularised numbers -‘Try A Little Tenderness’ and ‘Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay’ are radically reworked from the way you think you know them.
Though the music on this compilation ends in 1985, the band continue to tour to this day. What this compilation shows is how great the recorded output of the Ohio Players was in these years. Drawing on soul, funk, rock, jazz and disco – and paving the way for hip-hop – it’s time their story was more widely known, not just the edited highlights. If you haven’t heard them before, take this as your starting point – and then go and track down those studio albums.
The Definitive Collection Plus… is out now on Cherry Red
Stick In The Wheel – ‘Follow Them True.’ (From Here)
Photo credit: Edward Bishop
One of my favourite singers, Tracey Thorn, has announced her first album of new material in seven years.
Entitled Record, the video for the album’s opening track ‘Queen’ can be watched below. In her own words ‘It’s a great opener for the album – driven along by Ewan Pearson’s unashamedly glittering electro-pop production, drums and bass from Warpaint’s Stella and Jenny, it features me playing electric guitar for the first time in a while, and singing my heart out.”
The album tracklisting is as follows:
‘Nine feminist bangers!’ she reportedly (well, it’s what the press release says, so you know…) jokes about how the album sounds. It’s released on March 2. Bring it on…
Young Fathers picture credit: Julia Noni
Long-term 17 Seconds favourites, Young Fathers, have announced their third album.
Entitled Cocoa Sugar, the album will be released on March 9 on Ninja Tune. Following on from ‘Lord’ which was released towards the end of last year, the band have released another track from the album ‘In My View.’
The album’s tracklisting is as follows:
1. See How
2. Fee Fi
3. In My View.
8. Border Girl
9. Holy Ghost
12. Picking You
…and just for completeness sake:
Meg Remy photographed by Colin Medley
Wow…4AD are continuing to keep my inbox very busy indeed. Long may they continue to do so…
Meg Remy, who goes under the name U.S. Girls, is shortly to release her sixth album, In A Poem Unlimited. Her second album for the label, and her sixth in all, she has also unveiled the third track to be released from the album ‘Pearly Gates.’
And wow, are those concepts intriguing. ‘Pearly Gates’ is about a woman attempting to seduce St. Peter in order to get into heaven, with mixed results. is explained by its creator as follows: “Some years back a story was recounted to me about a man attempting to convince a woman to engage in unprotected sex by saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’m really good at pulling out.’ I thought this was a hilariously stupid thing to say and knew one day I would build a song around this line.”
The other singles so far released from the album include ‘Velvet 4 Sale’ imagining a world where women take up arms against men…
…and the aforementioned ‘Mad As Hell’, which deals with pacifism.
The album tracklisting is as follows:
1. Velvet 4 Sale
2. Rage Of Plastics
4. Why Do I Lose My Voice When I Have Something To Say
6. Incidental Boogie
8. Pearly Gates
She will be touring later on this year, the European tour dates are as follows:
30 April – AMSTERDAM, Melkweg Theaterzaal
1 May – BRUSSELS, Les Nuits Botanique
3 May – BERLIN, Kantine
4 May – VLIELAND, Here Comes The Summer
6 May – COPENHAGEN, Hotel Cecil
8 May – COLOGNE, Gewoelbe
9 May – ZURICH, Rote Fabrik
10 May – BASEL, Kaserne
11 May – BOLOGNA, Locomotiv Club
14 May – PARIS, Point Ephemere
16 May – LONDON, Scala
17 May – BIRMINGHAM, The Hare and Hounds
18 May – MANCHESTER, Soup Kitchen