The return of Squarepusher

Looking for something to blow away the cobwebs with? The new LP from Squarepusher might just be the ticket.

Be Up A Hello will be his first album in five years, released on January 31 via Warp. It sees Tom Jenkinson reflect on the impact of his years raving, with the result that the album draws heavily on acid house, techno and rave, whilst looking to the future. The tracklisting is as follows:

A1. Oberlove
A2. Hitsonu
A3. Nervelevers
A4. Speedcrank
A5. Detroit People Mover
B1. Vortrack
B2. Terminal Slam
B3. Mekrev Bass
B4. 80 Ondula

The first two tracks from the album have been unveiled: ‘Vortrack’ was released just before Christmas, and ‘Nervelevers’ was released today.

Presenting…Arlo Parks

Photograph: Chris Almeida

A Happy New Year to readers!

Last month, I managed to write fourteen posts, the most I had done in a calendar month in over four years. I am going to try and keep this up more frequently. Amazingly, the blog will be fourteen years old in July…

Flicking around earlier, I came across the BBC Sound Of 2020 longlist (you can check it out here if you’re so inclined). Giving Arlo Parks a listen, I was really pretty impressed by what this nineteen year old Londoner has to offer, such as the recent five track Sophie EP:

Much of the best art is made by outsiders; the Guardian quoted her as saying she was ‘a black kid who can’t dance for shit, listens to emo music and currently has a crush on some girl in my Spanish class.’

Her music draws on many sources and influences (not all of them musical, either), and seems to be being pitched as somewhere between hip-hop and emo. To these ears, there’s much in common that might classify it as soul, too, or maybe we all need to step away from the categorisations before the artistry at work gets ignored. The reality ios that Arlo Parks is very special and very distinctive. Are you paying attention?

To date she’s released two EPs, Super Sad Generation and Sophie, both in 2019, and the (very) limited vinyl releases are already changing hands for big money over on Discogs.

She’ll be touring for the first in March (see here for dates and tickets), including a date at Glasgow King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on March 10.

If you’ve only got a limited amount of time, watch this – then track down the two EPs.

17 Seconds Festive 50 2019

Well, this has been a task and a half, so this year, there are fifty tracks, forty seven done in an alphabetical list by artist, and finally three tracks given gold, silver and bronze ranking.

Attic Choir ‘Bleeding Grounds.’

Ardentjohn ‘Malin Head.’ ‘I Wasn’t There.’ ‘Magic Everywhere.’

Chvrches ‘Death Stranding.’

Cigarettes After Sex ‘Heavenly.’

Leonard Cohen ‘Happens To the Heart.’ ‘It’s Torn.’

Cranberries ‘Wake Me When It’s over.’

Divine Comedy ‘Norman and Norma.’

Katie Doherty and the Navigatots ‘Heartbeat Ballroom.’

Billie Eilish ‘Bad Guy.’ ‘Everything I Wanted.’ ‘Wish You Were Gay.’

Craig Finn ‘Blankets.’ ‘Something To Hope For.’

Fontaines DC ‘Boys In The Better Band.’

Ezra Furman ‘Calm Down AKA I Should Not Be Alone.’

Georgia ‘About Work the Dancefloor.’

Haim ‘Hallelujah.’

Hackney Colliery Band ‘Netsanet.’

Heartland Roots Band ‘Breaking Away.’ ‘Gasoline.’

JARV IS ‘Must I Evolve.’

Kano ‘Trouble.’

Chaka Khan ‘Like Sugar.’ ‘Hello Happiness.’

Lizzo ‘Cuz I Love You.’ ‘Good As Hell.’

George Michael ‘This Is How We Want You To Get High.’

Mura Masa featuring Slowthai ‘Deal With It.’

National ‘Light Years.’

Oceans Over Alderan ‘Sevenfour.’ ‘Falters.’

Pixies ‘On Graveyard Hill.’

Playing House ‘Not Good.’

Karine Polwart ‘Chance.’

Rev Magnetic ‘Gloaming.’

Sam Lee featuring Liz Fraser ‘The Moon Shines Bright.’

Sigrid ‘Sucker Punch.’

Specials ‘Black Skinned Blue Eyed Boys.’

Spearmint ’24 Hours in A&E.’ ‘Senseless.’

Stormzy ‘Vossi Bop.’

Taylor Swift ‘You Need To Calm Down.’

Twilight Sad ‘Rats.’

Waterboys ‘Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.’

Finally the top three…

Bronze: Lewis ‘LPS.’

Silver: Metronomy ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream.’

Jenna Reid ‘Hallgrimskirkja.’

And, here are the majority of the tracks in a convenient Spotify playlist!

Christmas Posts 2019 part 9

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, of all the Christmas albums released since Low (now 20 years old!) my favourite is Tracey Thorn’s Tinsel and Lights. There’s a mixture of covers and new songs, from one of the greatest women to come out of the post-punk era.

This is the album’s opening track, one of the new songs, the video for which was filmed in Lille, France.

Even better is the album’s title track which tells the story of a New York Christmas:

This year I finally got a vinyl copy, you should, too!

Christmas Posts 2019 part 8

There’s no shortage of musical things I would have loved to have done, and seeing Siouxsie and the Banshees live would have been great.

Today’s track ‘Ill Est Ne the Divin Enfant’ (translated into English from the French, literally ‘He Is Born, the Divine Child’) was covered by the band on the b-side of their 1982 single ‘Melt!’ This is a performance on a French TV show with 17 Seconds’ all-time hero Robert Smith of the Cure as part of the group:

In 2011, Tom Tom Club covered the song, too. This is a different reading but just as lovely…

Annie Lennox also covered the song on her Christmas album, A Christmas Cornucopia:

Back in 1991, the Chieftains covered it with vocals from Kate and Anna McGarrigle on the album The Bells Of Dublin:

If you’re interested in reading more about the carol go here to a page on Wiki

Christmas Posts 2019 part 7

Belle and Sebastian first recorded ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ for the 2000 XFM (now Radio X) compilation It’s A Cool, Cool Christmas. They later recorded it for a Christmas session for John Peel in 2002.

And a few other B&S Christmas goodies, too…

I must admit that I had rather forgotten about this until I first put this post together last year, but it is rather sweet. Their 2007 single:

Finally another track from the Peel session:

The entire 16 (sic) Peel session can be found here

Christmas Posts 2019 part 6

As we draw to the end of this decade, it is clear that Kate Bush has been a bit more visible than in the previous two decades, with the release of the Director’s Cut album, the 50 Words For Snow winter album and the live performances that led to the Before The Dawn live album. Perhaps, like the Blue Nile, she is never going to be the most regular of releasers, but we should be grateful for what we have.

This was a 1980 single, first premiered on her 1979 Christmas Special:

In 1993, this was the b-side to her then current single ‘Moments Of Pleasure’:

and if you haven’t heard 50 Words For Snow, get on it!

Christmas Posts 2019 part 5

Yes, you may well hang your head in shame, sir!

OK, so we were supposed to get a new Cure album this year.

Unless they do a My Bloody Valentine in the next two weeks, I think we are going to have to assume that isn’t going to happen.

Back in 1987, on the Kissing tour, The Cure finished their gig with a take on Slade’s perennial Christmas fave ‘Merry Xmas Everybody.’ I don’t believe this was ever commercially released but for fun, here it is.

A few years later, The Mission recorded a version under the name the Metal Gurus, which was commercially released, so for more fun, here you go!