(re) presenting CGIV

I’ve featured Clean George IV on this blog in the past, the work of Edinburgh’s George McFall. His last album God Save The Clean was fantastic and featured at no.25 in my list of best albums of the year

He’s now trading as CGIV. He’s working on a new album from which you can hear and see the utterly thrilling ‘Autumn’ at the top of the page. CGIV is basically George McFall and in his own words ‘whoever he can find to play drums at the time of recording.’ George is currently finishing an album which he would like to think will be ready for release by spring 2015.

‘Autumn’ is released via Tenement Records on November 24.

Earlier this year he released ‘Change’ which is utterly different and can be heard and seen below:

I was pretty impressed by the lyrics for ‘Autumn’ too; so here they are in their entirety:

“hoods up for the long haul
inordinate animal
it’s time to put the child to bed
tame yourself in time for death

last stretch before surrender
undeserving also-ran
time to put your prices up
change yourself in time for luck

activate the five year plan
on the wagon, in the can
a perfect day to overcome
obstacles like love and fun

the grip of fear the knee jerk hate
vibrating nerves in vacant lots
the abstract comfort of aroma
brickdust and bergamot

there is no stone as deep as sleep
at least not for the living
no more fantasies to keep
me from going where i’m going

autumn in paradise
prepare the sacrifice

your every right to lose control
your right to be unreasonable
your right to moulder and to rust
your right to misjudge and mistrust

an autumn hue in everything you see and hear and say and do
the abstract comfort of perfume
of yesterday and soon to come

autumn in paradise
prepare the sacrifice
germanic discipline
a shadow of your future self

there is no stone as deep as sleep
at least not for the living
no more fantasies to keep
me from going where i’m going
after the rain we’ll start again
we’ll start mapping out an ending
a perfect day to pave the way
a perfect day to give up thinking”

The return of the Wu-Tang Clan

With there being less than two months til the end of the year, the music industry is, as ever hoping that the fourth quarter will rescue them. This does, of course, depend on them giving us stuff that we want to buy rather than spending our hard-earned cash.

Along with what appears to be a final Pink Floyd album, more greatest hits albums than you can shake a stick at, and no doubt the ubiquitous cash-ins, amongst the albums still to grace us with their presence is the first Wu-Tang Clan album in 7 years.

Entitled A Better Tomorrow, the album is released on December 1 and the tracklisting is as follows:

‘Ruckus in B Minor’
‘Felt’
’40th Street Black / We Will Fight’
‘Mistaken Identity’
‘Hold the Heater’
‘Crushed Egos’
‘Keep Watch’
‘Miracle’
‘Preacher’s Daughter’
‘Pioneer the Frontier’
‘Necklace’
‘Ron O’Neal’
‘A Better Tomorrow’
‘Never Let Go’
‘Wu-Tang Reunion’

The opening track ‘Ruckus In B Minor’ can be streamed above. It sounds like prime Wu-Tang to these ears…

Album Review – New Street Adventure

nsa_album

New Street Adventure -’No Hard Feelings.’ (Acid Jazz)

Whilst there’s never been a shortage of white British bands bands trying to make out that they do listen to Black American soul and R&B, the feeling with new Street Adventure is that not only do they do so, but they’ve managed to produce something of their own in the process. And without the ‘beige’ sound that so often happens when acts to to do this, falling flat on their faces (and our ears) in the process.

There’s a sense of the underdog and social commentary here, but with neither a chip on the shoulder nor a negativity about it all. Lyrically strong, and with tunes that linger long after the album has come to an end, this is a debut that displays promise. It isn’t an all-time great debut – but there’s the sense of a band who are finding their feet, and who you sense are sticking to the music that inspires them rather than a ‘just a few tweaks and you could sound like [indie flavour of the month].’

Kicking off with this year’s rather fine ‘On Our Frontdoorstep’ single there’s a timelessness to these songs which will hopefully be finding a wider audience very soon. And I like to think on the evidence within that they can do that.

***1/2

No Hard Feelings is out now on Acid Jazz. The band’s album launch takes place at London’s 100 Club on November 4.

The long-awaited return of Belle and Sebastian

It feels like it’s been a very long time coming.

But January 19 2015 will see the release of the ninth Belle and Sebastian studio album Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance on Matador. The first track to do the rounds is ‘The Party Line’ which you can stream at the top of the page. It nods to recent remixes and collaborations. I wasn’t sure about it on the first play and yet by the third I really was hooked. Turn it up. The track can be streamed and downloaded at all the usual sites.

The tracklisting is as follows:

1. Nobody’s Empire
2. Allie
3. The Party Line
4. The Power Of Three
5. The Cat With The Cream
6. Enter Sylvia Plath
7. The Everlasting Muse
8. Perfect Couples
9. Ever Had A Little Faith?
10. Play For Today
11. The Book Of You
12. Today (This Army’s For Peace)

The tour dates in May in England, Wales and and Scotland are as follows:

May 3 St. David’s, Cardiff, Wales
May 4 Colston Hall, Bristol, England
May 5 Guildhall, Portsmouth, England
May 7 Corn Exchange, Cambridge, England
May 8 Open, Norwich, England
May 10 Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England
May 11 Westminster Central Hall, London
May 14 Albert Hall, Manchester, England
May 16 City Hall, Newcastle, England
May 18 Opera House, Buxton, England
May 19 City Hall, Leeds, England
May 22 Hydro Arena, Glasgow (with the Scottish Festival Orchestra)
May 24 Sound City, Liverpool, England

(re) presenting BWANi

The have been examples of bands who have shortened their name over the years (-and one of my favourites was the way The Southern Death Cult morphed into Death Cult and finally became The Cult). 17 Seconds faves Bwani Junction have rebranded themselves BWANi and are set to release their new single ‘Make My Day’ on December 1 as the first single under their new(er) moniker.

The song was written in Vietnam last year as Rory Fairweather, the band’s singer says ‘We came up with the tune at sound-check in Hanoi, and decided to play it unfinished that night: two thousand wee Vietnamese heads bobbing up and down suggested we might be onto a winner!’

You can stream it at the top of the page.

Meanwhile, the band have announced two live dates – London’s Garage on November 12 and Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms on November 28.

Album Review – Scott Walker & Sunn o)))

soused

Scott Walker & Sunn o))) -’Soused.’ (4AD)

You get the feeling that there are still people who wish that Scott Walker hadn’t deviated too far from the path that they would have chosen for him. Having first arrived in the limelight as one third of the Walker Brothers (nearly fifty years ago), the path he has trod has been increasingly leftfield. Yet it’s not just the fact that songs like ‘Clara’ (from 2006′s The Drift) featured percussive sounds including a dead pig being punched. The signs were there on those four, numbered Scott albums, not to mention the last Walker Brothers album, Nite Flights, particularly ‘The Electrician.’

Yet whilst this is still an album that will frighten those who would still have him singing the chart hits from the 1960s, there’s been a considered view that this may well be the most approachable album Walker has recorded since 1984′s Climate Of Hunter. And that’s allowing for the fact that this is a collaboration with the legendary Sunn o)). The fact is: they have evolved from the days when they were perceived as being just an Earth tribute act. And thankfully for us, their trajectory has brought them together (reportedly they wanted Walker to sing on their 2009 album Monoliths and Dimensions, but it didn’t happen).

‘Oh the wide Missouri!’ Walker sings on opening track. It’s almost a tease – sounding almost operatic before the Sunn o)) drone kicks in. Whilst none of this is singalong (did you really expect that? Seriously??), it’s a cycle which kicks in – and the thought occurs that this may be an album you can – whisper it – enjoy.

And that’s the thing: while on paper this album may seem dark and forbidding, it’s surprisingly easy to listen to time and time again. Not is a despairing ‘I have to be seen to like this’ kind of way – but far more – ‘I hear something new each time.’ Sunn o))’s sound has been described as cavernous – and that’s one of many adjectives – but it truly does fill a room, particularly ‘Bull.’ The 12 minute ‘Herod 2014′ with saxophones that sound like dying birds and the heartbreaking almost-chorus of ‘She’s taken her babies away’ doesn’t end up playing out like Lou Reed’s ‘The Kids’ but almost beautiful.

And it’s a record of two artists’ interest and exploration of the avant-garde, but if people can progress beyond the suspicion that avant garde has to equal a) unlistenable and b) pretentious, it’s a very rewarding album.

Oh, and as far as I can tell, there’s no pig-punching on this, either.

****

Soused is out now on 4AD.

Gig review – Robyn Hitchcock/Kat Healy

Robyn Hitchcock/Kat Healy

Edinburgh Electric Circus, October 19

By her own admission, Kat Healy does a lot of songs about boys and the wather. ‘Also revenge songs,’ she tells us. Though singer-songwriters can often struggle as a support act, Ms. Healy benefits from the fact that a) the crowd are actually polite and receptive and b) she is very good at what she does. Songs like ‘Hey Mr. Weatherman,’ ‘No Heroes’ and ‘Sweet November’ show her to be more than just another singer-songwriter.

I’ve long admired Robyn Hitchcock on record, both solo and as a member of the Soft Boys, but tonight was the first time I’ve been privileged to see him live. In the environs of the Electric Circus, it feels intimate and yet even with just him and an acoustic guitar, he absolutely fills the place, and I don’t mean the fact it’s a very busy night.

He tears straight into ‘In The Abyss’ and ‘Wreck Of The Arthur Lee’ before telling us that ‘it’s great to be back here…in the crucible of the Incredible String Band.’

Not only is he a fantastic musician and songwriter, but he also knows how to make the audience laugh with him. Even if I pity the long-suffering soundman tonight with all of Mr. Hitchcock’s stage directions. ‘Joe,’ he announced. ‘For this one I’m going to count down from 5 – I’ll presumably stop at 1 – and at that point it’s just my guitar. . . do you have stereo? Brilliant… I want to fill their minds with geeeetarrr, so pan it around, back and forth, so it…’ [gesturing to the audience] ‘…FLOSSES THEIR BRAINS…’ (with thanks to my quick thinking friend Jared who managed to get all that down. That was just one example of many.)

With a career now taking in four decades, he has not only a large back catalogue to choose from, but also a very unique style. ‘So we get songs like the excellent ‘My Wife and my Dead Wife:’

” My wife lies down in a chair
And peels a pear
I know she’s there
I’m making coffee for two
Just me and you
But I come back in with coffee for three
Coffee for three?
My dead wife sits in a chair
Combing her hair
I know she’s there
She wanders off to the bed
Shaking her head
“Robyn,” she said
“You know I don’t take sugar!”

(I had to share that with you in case you’ve never heard the song.)

So no, we don’t get ‘I Wanna Destroy You’ or ‘So You Think You’re In Love’ but when we get ‘Museum of Sex,’ The Soft Boys’ ‘Queen of Eyes and a first set that closes with ‘Tarantula,’ who’s complaining?

He also pulls of the feat of playing entirely cover versions of The Doors’ The Crystal Ship,’ Nick Drake’s ‘The Riverman,’ Syd Barrett’s ‘Dominoes’ and Bowie’s ‘Soul Love.’ In the hands of many, you could feel short-changed. In the presence of Robyn Hitchcock, you feel privileged.

****

Presenting…Prides

Prides

The rather fabulous synth-pop band Prides are Stewart Brock (piano, lead vocals), Callum Wiseman (guitar, piano, vocals) and Lewis Gardner (drums). |Formed last year, if the name sounds familiar to you, it may well be because they played the closing ceremony for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in the summer.

Comparisons might well be made with Future Islands and Chvrches – but on the evidence of the two tracks below, you should see (and hear) that Prides are most definitely following their own path.

‘Out Of The Blue’ is their latest single, just released this week:

The video for ‘Messiah’ (the song performed at the closing ceremony in Glasgow) from The Seeds You Sow EP, released earlier this year:

They’re out on tour in February 2015 and the tour dates in England and Scotland are as follows:

Thursday, 5 February – Ironworks, Inverness
Friday 6 February – Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
Saturday 7 February – Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
Wednesday, 11 February– The Haunt, Brighton
Thursday, 12 February – Heaven, London
Friday, 13 February – Bodega, Nottingham
Saturday, 14 February – The Leadmill, Sheffield

Tickets go on sale TODAY from their website: do act quickly, though, as many shows on their present tour are sold out.

Album Review – Twilight Sad

Twilight Sad -’Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave.’ (Fat Cat)

Why oh why have the Twilight Sad still not yet broken through to the mainstream success that they so clearly deserve? You wonder if it galls them that former labelmates and tourmates Frightened Rabbit have signed to a major and have enjoyed a top ten album this year or that former bandmate Martin Docherty is now one-third of the hugely popular Chvrches.

Let us be clear about two things: this is not due in any way to their music or, indeed, reviews. There are many people out there who love the Twilight Sad just the way they are – and I am one of them.

The album opens with the impressive double-whammy of ‘There’s A Girl In The Corner’ and ‘Last January’; the two tracks that have been doing the rounds ahead of the album’s release for a few weeks now. And then, as the anthemic, bass-driven ‘I Could Give You All that You Don’t Want’ kicks in, it all becomes clear: this is an album that doesn’t let up, and holds it’s own to the final notes of the heartbreaking album closer ‘Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep.’

The band have talked of this album combining elements of their three previous studio albums, and I would agree. It may well be the most Twilight Sad any of their records have sounded without ever feeling that it’s going over old ground. Hopefully this will be the record that catapults them into the big time. And if it isn’t, that’s the fault of the listening public and not the band.

****

Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave is released by Fat Cat on October 27.

The return of Snide Rhythms

When I reviewed Snide Rhythms’ debut album a couple of years ago, I described them as ‘A joy to the ears, a delight for the feet and a treat you can gorge yourself on.’ Now I still stand by that comment, and I’m utterly delighted to announce their return!

The three track ‘Acid Alliteration’ (does that make it an EP or is it not an EP if the other two tracks are versions? Still not sure after a quarter of a century of buying music) is a welcome return, drenched in the acid sound of the 303 and I wish I could dance. Hell. No one’s watching. I will. It’s the sound of post-punk meets acid house and it’s as funky as hell. Bring it on.

****1/2

Snide Rhythms play the Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh on November 8. Stream the single above and click to buy via bandcamp.