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Friday, 6 February 2015

Ezra Furman – Day of the Dog

Thankfully Ezra Furman is not related to Doncaster Rover’s hapless South African midfielder Dean Furman. Unlike his footballing namesake, Ezra is creative, energetic, pacy at times and actually manages to score sometimes with some cracking songs which ultimately hit the back of the music biz net. Maybe Dean should think about a music career.

They love Ezra on 6 Music. I was so sick of hearing how great he was that I decided to find out for myself and surprisingly he was actually quite great. That’s not to say that this is the most consistent of albums, but most of the songs are at least engaging and four or five are things of beauty. However, it’s quite hard to describe the kind of noise that Ezra produces. It’s original, unique, lo-fi, folky but with a timeless quality that recreates the atmosphere of Bob Dylan or the Byds. If you need further persuasion; he looks like a cool guy, he probably writes these songs in his cellar and his backing band are called The Boyfriends.

The pick of the bunch are the poignant singalong of ‘Cold Hands’, the skiffle-tastic ‘Tell ‘em All to Go to Hell’ and the stunningly atmospheric ‘Walk on in Darkeness’ which sounds like a cross between Surfa Rosa era Pixies and the Cramps on a good day. I often find myself singing ‘Maybe God is a Train?’ as well. And who knows, maybe God is a train? Maybe a train invented Honky Tonk angels? ‘My Zero’ also has some appeal on the catchiness continuum.

This is a great introduction to his work and I’m instantly hooked and looking forward to the next Ezra album I can get my hands on. Hopefully Dean will take note and prove to be more dynamic, creative and speedy in the future just like Ezra.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Soft Pack – Strapped

The Soft Pack are generic indie goodness hailing from San Diego. They unashamedly wear their influences on their sleeve and these influences are not the standard boring Joy Division or Echo and the Bunny Men that are so prevalent in the 2014 incarnation of the genre. The Soft Pack stir up a punch bowl that combines The Bodines, Weather Prophets, Sebadoh, Bob, The Teardrop Explodes, Haircut 100, the Higsons, Inspiral Carpets, the Primitives and Mighty Mighty in a mouth-wateringly straightforward concoction. It’s a fun, fruity and effervescent vintage.

Sadly, they’re almost certainly headed for the obscurity of our pages rather than the real media of the NME or radio air play. They’re too wholesome, too standard and have too much quality to engage with the proper music biz. And that’s a really positive attribute. If you loved ‘Played’ and wonder why that kind of music had to disappear, well it didn’t, it’s the sound of the Soft Pack.

All the tracks are stonkers, but my personal favourites are the adrenaline fuelled charms of ‘Chinatown’, the eighties throwback of ‘They Say’ and the Teardrop-esque ‘Tallboy’. Best of all is the strange hybrid of the Bodines and Serious Drinking that is ‘Second Look’ resplendent with tooting horns and twanging guitars.

A fantastic album, a refreshing change and well worth searching out. Fingers crossed for a new album in the near future.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Johann Bley – Ramp Up

Pick of the Week 60 – Johann Bley

Intense gutsy psi-trance that no-one would give the time of day for from an underrated German producer. I’m loving its full on, no nonsense approach to the genre and it's never spoiled by any unnecessary showing off or noodle doodling. Psytrance TV do an excellent job on YouTube and you should check them out. Even with my new found tolerance of the tattoo, has that woman not heard the phrase ‘less is more’? Seriously though I’m sure she’s a lovely person and thanks for sharing your artwork.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Aesthetic Perfection – All Beauty Destroyed

I’d heard a previous Aesthetic Perfection album (Til Death) on YouTube and decided it was worth investing in their allegedly best work ‘All Beauty Destroyed’. Essentially the album is a game of two halves with half of the tracks proving to be excellent and the other half getting flicked instantly. How can Daniel Graves, the world’s premium purveyor of dark screamy techno, get it simultaneously so right and so wrong? Well I’ll tell you…

Til Death was a lovely album and I’ve only just realised it was released in 2014. It combined catchy electro with a dark atmosphere and the odd burst of screamo style vocals. However to cut through the darkness was a sense of jollity and upbeat singalongability that made tracks like ‘Antibody’ and ‘Oh Gloria!’ so much fun in a downcast sort of way. In short, it has the cheese and jam sandwich effect of combining sweet, sour and salty in a wholesome little package.

Meanwhile ‘All Beauty Destroyed’ is a much darker affair. There’s lots of stinky cheese and a distinct lack of tangy jam. Having said that, the quality half are banging, dancefloor fillers with the emphasis reverting from jolly singing to snarling and full on screamo. ‘Inhuman’ is like New Order meets Marilyn Manson, ‘A Nice Place to Visit’ is darker still and reminiscent of the music played in nightclubs on the outskirts of Hell. Best of all is the no holds barred screamo meets techno bleep-fest of ‘The 11th Hour’ which has to be dark techno’s finest moment.

Unfortunately all the other tracks push the darkness into sleazy and/or attention seeking for the sake of it territory akin to the afore mentioned Manson. They’re all rubbish and that includes the too slowies that aren’t that seedy but are still hopeless.

With hindsight I should have bought and reviewed the more recent album ‘Til Death’ but I suppose I have really. Of the two I’d definitely prefer this latest offering, but ‘The 11th Hour’ is a must listen moment!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

DocCortex's Festive Fifty 2014 (10-1)

10. Aesthetic Perfection - The 11th Hour

Storming, anthemic track from 'All Beauty Destroyed'

9. Ayumi Ishida - Taiyou Wa Naite Iru

Japanese sixties chic from the 'Nippon Girls' compilation.

Sadly this is not the song but another of her ditties.

8. Megson - The Longshot

Football meets folk in engaging story format, hurray!

7.  Kiesza - Hideaway

Even a billion hits on Youtube can't stopping us lovely this dance floor crowd pleaser. Great video and ginger too!

6.  Eels - New Alphabet

Chunky and well produced number from Mark Oliver Everett.

5. DJ Sanj - Balle Balle Hogay Mitro

Classic track from Bhangra Evolution.

4. Cinerama - Careless

David Gedge returns with Cinerama who I only just discovered this year.

3. Heidi Talbot  - The Lonliest

Stalk, beautiful Irish folk music everyone should hear.

2. Rise Against - A Gentlemen's Coup

Another piece of quality from the world's favourite agit-rockers.

1.  Emmy the Great - Mia

Fantastic track from fanastic album. 'MIA' basically picked itself by getting stuck in my head for the whole year. A work of genius!

Well that's Christmas over and done with I suppose. It's now time to start listening to some new music!


Saturday, 3 January 2015

Doccortex's Festive Fifty 2014 (20-11)

20. Bright Eyes - Ladder Song

Profound little acoustic ditty from the slightly disappointing album 'The People's Key'. 

19. Teleman - Skeleton Dance

Straightforward indie action from the London based 3 piece.

18. Sons and Daughters - Rose Red

The one bright spot from the suspect album Mirror Mirror.

17.  ARIA - Your Underling

Confident pop music from the mysterious band from Buffalo.

16. Fong Tran -  Problem with what's taught in school

Blistering spoken word that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

15. Morrissey - Staircase at the University

Sublime highlight from the excellent 'World Peace...' LP.

14. Swami - Challa II

Outstanding Bhangra fusion from the Beginners Guide compilation.

13. The Be Good Tanyas Only in the Past

Classic bluegrass from the Cursed Earth from the lovely Tanyas.

12. Ezra Furman Walk on in Darkness

The talented member of the Furman clan with my favourite from the classic 'Day of the Dog' LP.

11. Veronica Falls - Beachy Head

Glorious indie harmonies from the current best band in the world. 


Friday, 2 January 2015

Doccortex's Festive Fifty 2014 (30-21)

30. Saira Khan - Dachi Wallya

Gorgeous slice of bhangra from the Beginner's Guide compilation. 

Another of her offerings.

29. SEMARGL - Credo Revolution (Zardonic Remix)

Death metal meets dance remix from the man in the mask.

28. Adora _Save Yourself

Lovely slice of Paramore-esque pop rock.

27. The Soft Pack - Second Look

Low key, slow-burning indie from the San Diego throwbacks.

26. Marisa Medina - No Te Acuerdas De Mí

Tacky but brilliant Spanish 60's action from the 'Chicas!' compilation.

25. Terry Lynn - Streetlife [Wildlife! Mix]

Classy Jamaican flavoured dance from the underrated Ms. Lynn.

24. Okkervil River - Plus Ones

Standard issue number from festive fifty folk stalwarts.

23. Jenny Lewis - Late Bloomer

Glorious yodel-fest from the lovely but hard to pin down genre-wise songstress.

22. Savages - Shut Up

Sounds like Siouxsie but somehow takes the format forward. Lovely drumming too.

21.  Lindi Ortega - Murder of Crows

Slick little gem from the League 1 Country & Western diva.


Thursday, 1 January 2015

Doccortex's Festive Fifty 2014 (40-31)

40. Suli Breaks -  I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate

Excellent example of spoken word at its best.

39. Mesh - You want what's owed to you

The pick of the tracks from Automation Baby.

38. Bob Marley - Burnin' And Lootin

Great track on the La Haine soundtrack from the legend himself.

37. Gorgon City - Real

The standout track on the Subsoul compilation.

36. Keaton Henson - Flesh and Bone

Touching and passionate songwriting from the multi-talented tortured little soul.

35. Grendel - Neon City Lights

Quality pumping old school techno from the dutch super producer. Harsh Generation was also a fantastic LP.

34.  Karolina Cicha & Spolka - Bialystok Majn Hejm

Top quality Polish folk from Songlines 'Discover Poland' compilation.

33. Vic Godard & the Subway Sect The Water Was Bad

Fun new-ish material from the legendary Punk veterans.

32. Rokia Traoré - Ka Moun Kè

Beautiful vocals from the current queen of world music.

31. Craig Connelly & Christina Novelli - Black Hole

Pure and simple dance based singalong from my favourite female trance vocalist. Great video too.


Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Doccortex's Festive Fifty 2014 (50-41)

It's that time of the year again when we publish our favourite fifty tracks of the year. Any genre, any era and just one entry per artist. So without further ado here's the first ten for this year...

50. Austra - The Villain

Lacklustre offering from a poor album (Feel it Break)

49. Banco de Gaia - Lamentations

Average atmospheric wailing from veteran dance music producers.

48. CocoRosie - End of Time

Odd quirky rap from the Casady sisters. I'm not that impressed.

47. Deadmau5 (sic) Dead Mouse - My Pet Coelacanth

Average electronic fun from people so cool the standard alphabet is not enough for them.

46. Allo Darlin' - Kiss your Lips

Elizabeth Morris adopts a strange accent for this twee outing from the eponymou5 album.

45. Queens of the Stone Age - I Sat by the Queen

Agreeable standard issue number from tired alternative rockers.

44. The Geraldine Fibbers - Toybox

The best of a bad bunch from the 'Butch' album.

43. Susheela Raman - Sharabi

Quality slice of eastern folk fusion from the British Indian songstress with big hair.

42. Fernhill - Folentein

Stark welsh tooting with a little bit of singing on the end. Lovely!

41. Bob Mould - The Silence Between Us

More of the trademark sound from the stalwart beardy popster.


Monday, 22 December 2014

Allo Darlin’ – Allo Darlin’ LP

Regular readers will know how much we loved Allo Darlin’s 2012 LP ‘Europe’ so it seemed only polite to give its predecessor, 2010’s eponymously titled album a spin. In some ways it’s a disappointment as it never quite lives up to the consistency and quality of ‘Europe’, however this is still a great album by anyone else’s standards, and throw in the flagship single ‘Dreaming’, which I’d already played to death, and you’re onto a winner. It’s quirkier and more twee than its more polished successor but there are odd flashes of brilliance if you can get past the irritation factor.

Top of the irritation list Elizabeth Morris’ accent on several tracks which sounds at best false and at worst attention seeking, with the worst offender being the chorus of ‘Kiss Your Lips’ where I almost needed subtitles to understand what was going on (I kassed your laps and they were kinduv salteee.). It’s not an Aussie drawl or a twee British stiff upper lip, it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard before! And secondly there’s the super twee nature of some of the lyrics, exemplified by the excruciating ‘Heartbeat Chilli’, with its introverted cookery related monologue.

Anyway that’s the rant over. This is actually a solid and enjoyable album that chugs along with consistency and singalongability. If it wasn’t for the accent then ‘Kiss Your Lips’ would have been the standout track, but with its obvious limitations I’d have plump for the quiet confidence of ‘Let’s go Swimming’. Also worthy of a mention are the beautiful silky ‘Silver Dollars’, the desperation of ‘If Loneliness was Art’ and the slightly cloying but catchy ‘Woody Allen’.  

The whole thing is a bit too sickly sweet for my tastes, but the song-writing shows the promise that would ultimately lead to Europe. Hopefully there’s and even better album to come in the near future.