Friday, 29 November 2013

I Like It - Princess Chelsea

Long time supporter of hiapop Blog, Princess Chelsea has a new toon out right now!

We're So Lost from the forthcoming album The Great Cybernetic Depression sees our favourite Royal on top form with a great video to back it up.

If the new album is half as good as 2011s Lil' Golden Book then we'll be very happy bunnies.  Expect a review of the album here as soon as I get my grubby little hands on it.

Hopefully, she'll return to our shores next year to promote the album!

Loads more Princess Chelsea articles and reviews on hiapop Blog - here

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Music - Part 149 - Phildel Top 10

With one of the finest albums of the year already under her belt in The Disappearance Of The Girl, Phildel is set to release a new EP, The Glass Ghost, before embarking on a short Advent Tour of the UK.  She was recently only too happy to share her favourite albums with me.

When I asked Phildel to share her Top 10 albums with me, it was clear that she loves music.  Not content with giving ten albums just to make up the numbers, she explained why  she struggled to give a complete answer - “It's so hard thinking of top ten albums, as I find it's so rare that artists release really consistent work throughout a whole album. If I hear a great track and buy the album only to find there's material on there that's lower in consistency, I get quite disappointed - it's a personal thing - I know others don't always feel this way and are to find more value in everything and I'm sure their lives are richer for that.”

Honest words indeed.  In fact, after giving the quandary much deliberation, she told me “Having given it some serious thought - I couldn't really come up with ten. I came up with eight I really adore, but the others I like, and love in places, just fell short here and there, or were a little too patchy for me to feel like they belonged on the list. I should also mention - I still haven't actually listened to a huge number of albums - I'm not one of those people who goes through lots of music. If I like a first quick listen through an album - I spend a year to two years listening to that album and not a huge amount else, other than what I'm re-drafting musically myself, which also takes up a huge amount of listening time.”

There are maybe a few interesting choices in the short list too, Phildel insisted that her top ten was “based on consistency. Consistency of creativity, sincerity and strength of melody, lyrics and arrangement.”  At the top of the list is Elbow’s The Seldom Seen Kid album which she described as “an outstanding and inspiring piece of work and I think it's the best thing to have ever won a Mercury Prize by a long way. Since I first heard it, I also haven't heard anything I've felt beats it. I'm still in awe of Elbow and that album - and I think Guy Garvey is an utter legend.”

So here is Phidel’s Top 8 albums for the time being as she ended “perhaps I can send the completed list through in a few years?”

1.      Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

2.      Yann Tierson - Amelie Soundtrack

3.      Michael Jackson – Bad

4.      Chris Isaak  - Heart Shaped World

5.      Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

6.      Alt-J - An Awesome Wave

7.      Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself

8.      David Lynch - Crazy Clown Time


 Published on Louder Than War 28/11/13 - here

News - Feral Five New Single And Video

Currently hiapop Blogs new favourite group, Feral Five are set to release the follow-up to possibly the best single of 2013 (Skin) with their infectious disco punk single Strung Out.

A rather spiffing blend of thumping bassline and Cramps style guitar solo, Strung Out shows that Kat and Drew are here for the long haul.

If that wasn't enough, they're bloody nice peeps and a gem in todays music world.

Oh, and I think I'm falling for Kat, but don't tell my wife.

The single is released on 9 December.

Skin Video
Feral Five website
Feral Five on Twitter

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

News - Ralphs Life CD For Mental Health Charity

I love Twitter.  I've found some cracking folk both on the hiapop account and other accounts (yes, I currently have a hand in six!).   Some I've met in person, some I haven't, some I will at some point.

I hope one of the latter is fellow music blogger Mike Lindley (aka @fruitbatwalton).  He's doing a rather wonderful thing at the moment.  He's raising pledges via the Crowdfunder website to be able to produce a cd of 40, mostly unsigned, artists.  Click here to see the full line-up.

The proceeds will be going to Rethink Mental Illness in the UK and promoted by The Fine Line Project.

A staggering one in four people will suffer from one form of mental illness during their life.  It could be your Mum, your Brother, your Wife.  I could even be you.  Depression has no boundaries, it can affect anyone. Chances are you know several people who suffer, they might not even know.

This isn't just a case of  'cheering up' or 'snapping out of it', this is a life changing thing.  A thing that physically stops you having a normal life.  It can be devastating in all its forms.

We all have the chance to make a small difference.  The best way I can see is to buy the cd.  It's only £12 for a double, that sounds pretty bloody good value to me, and I really can't see any excuse for anybody not helping.  Details are here.  Do it now.


Monday, 25 November 2013

Music - Part 148 - SixToes (feat. Dave Gahan)

SixToes (feat. Dave Gahan) – Low Guns (Mute Records)
Out Now

Cinematic folk music band, SixToes, release their new single.  

Coincidentally released whilst Depeche Mode partake in the UK leg of their current tour, or sensibly released the week after Remembrance Day, ‘Low Guns’ is a sweeping gem that will have you humming afterwards and eager to hear again.

Taken from groups forthcoming second album, ‘The Morning After’, the track features Dave Gahan on vocals who the group approached after remixing tracks from the Depeche ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ album.

Based in London, but with founder members David Greenep and Ben Roger originally from Cornwall, the group are now a six piece and were allegedly named after one band members revealed they had six toes on each foot.

You may not know the name but they’ve certainly got high credentials – touring with Jamie T and remixing the Nick Cave side project Grinderman.  It’s easy to see why too, they’re a talented a lot and the sweeping string section on ‘Low Guns’ proves the fact.  They also played on the ‘The Light The Dead Sea’ album by Soulsavers (also featuring Gahan and widely acknowledged as his finest vocal performance)

The track starts slowly with soft guitars and gradually builds into an epic with rolling drums and heightened emotions.

The video for the track is also fascinating.  Allegedly filmed as a continuous seven second shot before being slowed down to create a creepy yet beautiful accompaniment.



Published on Louder Than War 22/11/13 - here

Friday, 22 November 2013

Music - Part 147 - The Fontanelles

The Fontanelles – Horns Of Freedom (First Word)
Out Now

Afrobeat fusion band, The Fontanelles unleash their debut album. 

Ever wondered what a PigBag/James Brown/Los Chinches supergroup would sound like?  No, me neither, but if you ever do find yourself awake at night pondering the thought, then give The Fontanelles  a listen and your curiosity will be quenched.

Formed to be the backing band for Fela! The Musical when it was on its London stint, the ten-piece decided that their relationship and natural chemistry demanded that they stay together and carry on performing – thankfully. 

The Fontanelles have certainly created a great sound, mixing ska, jazz and reggae with an afrobeat base.  The energy is high and the musicianship is superb.

Album opener, Gaia’s Revenge, blasts the album straight into view with its clear jazz influences, and the horns which are obviously prevalent on the album are powerful and precise.  Afrocat has dub touches and again keeps up the pace as the title is announced throughout.

Recent single, Criminality, brings in American funk influences and again the horn sound and instrumentation is frenetic.  To see The Fontanelles live must be an experience to behold.

The tempo slows down for The Wave and  Project 31 to a sleepy groove before being picked up again for the title track which closes the album.

It’s nice to hear a non-vocal album that doesn’t get boring at some point, in fact ‘Horns Of Freedom’ is quite the opposite as it remains interesting the engaging to the end.  If there’s a downside, then it’s that there are only eight tracks here, but given the quality on show it’s an inconsequential fact that’s quite easily overlooked.



Published on Louder Than War 21/11/13 - here

Music - Part 146 - Cabaret Voltaire

Cabaret Voltaire - #8385 (Collected Works 1983-1985) (Mute)
Out Now

Pioneers of British electronic music, Cabaret Voltaire, are given the box set treatment.

A six cd, four LP, 2 DVD with 40 page 12” booklet containing the mid-period Cabaret Voltaire releases is the stuff that dreams are made of.  It’s here.  There is a God.  With cd versions of 1985’s ‘The Covenant, The Sword And The Arm Of The Lord’ only available for £40+, this is a very welcome package.

In the late 70s, Voltaire were well ahead of their time with their often experimental mix of techno, dance and dub.  Possibly too far ahead of their time to be accepted.  Their crashing beats, screeching synths and repeated loops were a trademark and their influence was widespread and still is to this day.

Celebrating thirty years since its release, ‘The Crackdown’ is a weird trip into electronic experimentation.  From the jazz skip of ‘Moscow’ through to the near post punk/electro funk sound of ’24-24’ the album and its accompanying EP were ground-breaking to say the least.  Yes, some of it sounds dated given the sounds and technology now available, but a rap on a British release in 1983 was pretty unique, and that was Voltaire’s strongpoint.  Always ahead of the crowd, always fresh an exciting.

1984 album, ‘Micro-Phonies’ was certainly a triumph and made folk sit up and listen.  Opener ‘Do Right’ had the sound that would come in later works (and their nearly hits ‘Here To Go’ and ‘Don’t Argue’), and tracks like ‘James Brown’ and ‘Sensoria’ which helped to mould their reputation which undoubtedly came before them.

Four trademark extended tracks appear on the semi-legendary ‘Drinking Gasoline’.  The funky Cabaret Voltaire now in full swing with soundbytes before they were ever so fashionable.  ‘Big Funk’ can do nothing but make you sit up and want to move in your seat.  ‘Ghost Talk’, ‘Sleepwalking’ and ‘Kino’ complete this mini album with the latter being an extraordinary track even to this day.

If, like me, you’ve always treasured your cassette copy of ‘The Covenant, The Sword And The Arm Of The Lord’ wishing that one day it would be available on cd for an affordable price, then you’ll be a very happy man.  An album of sheer bliss, power, aggression, danceability, experimentation and originality.  From the opening of ‘The Web’ the album makes an instant impression.  In many people’s eyes, their finest moment.  The fine funky bass on ‘Golden Halo’ and the fragmented pounding drumbeat of ‘Hells Home’ are shining beacons.  The album highlight, ‘I Want You’ still sounds superb after almost twenty years.

Combined with DVDs in the shape of ‘Live’ with two performances from 1984, and ‘Gasoline In Your Eye’ available digitally for the first time, and an additional cd of unreleased tracks and mixes, ‘#8385’ is a superb collection for a band that should really be on everyone’s radar.  Undoubtedly, one of the most influential acts of the last 35 years.



Published on Louder Than War 21/11/13 – here

Music - Part 145 - Depeche Mode Live Review

Depeche Mode
Manchester Arena
Friday 15 November 2013

The Basildon boys arrived in Manchester for the latest show of their Delta Machine tour.  Promoting the finest album in their thirty-three years history, still packing out the Arena venues and rumoured to be headlining at Glastonbury 2014.

There’s always a huge sense of anticipation before their shows.  Anyone who’s ever seen them will know that they have it down to a fine art.  Tour after tour they never seem to disappoint and this was no exception.

With a back catalogue of almost two hundred songs to choose from, there are always people that will be disappointed that their favourite wasn’t played, but the quality of a Depeche Mode show makes you forget.

With a stage set of three huge (and we’re talking HUGE) screens which played back images, lyrics and video footage of the band in amazing quality, there was always somewhere to look.  The imagery was fascinating and worked superbly well with the music.  Surely Anton Corbijn was involved somewhere?

Supported on stage by Peter Gordano (keyboards, guitar) and Christian Eigner (drums), Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher looked comfortable and confident throughout the ninety minute set list.  The band has taken on more of a ‘live’ performance over the years, as opposed to a pre-recorded backing, and the atmosphere has intensified as a result.  The percussion of Eigner was particularly superb adding power and another dimension to the tracks.  Given the very analogue feel of Delta Machine, this made for a particularly interesting sound.

Gore less than happy for the start, almost going through the motions, until he slowly moved into gear, maybe weighing up the audience?  Fletch gave his best Kraftwerk audition and Gahan spun and ran and twirled around the stage often with microphone in Freddie Mercury pose to the joy of the twenty thousand strong audience.

Opening with the first of five tracks from Delta Machine, ‘Welcome To My World’ started slowly and maybe isn’t an ideal choice as an opener due to its slow nature, similarly ‘Angel’, whilst well received, didn’t seem to have the kick it has in its recorded version.  But then things started to step up a notch.  The music got louder, the atmosphere intensified and ‘Walking In My Shoes’ blew the socks off everyone.  Maybe the sound wasn’t quite right at the start?  Maybe the crowd expected too much too soon?  We’ll probably never know, or care, as everyone soon forgot.

There were surprises in the set list.  ‘Black Celebration’ for one seemed an unusual choice but had everyone singing along to the chorus.  The last single, ‘Soothe My Soul’ was nowhere to be seen, and a piano only accompaniment to American single ‘But Not Tonight’ was sung by Martin in one of his three solo performances.  The other two ‘The Child Inside’ and ‘Condemnation’ (saved for the encore set) again showed that he is a vocalist with an extraordinary voice, and surely one of the finest lyricists that this country has ever produced.

Live versions of remixes were also performed.  The interesting guitar intro from Gordano had much of the audience guessing that it was the Jacques Lu Cont remix version of ‘A Pain That I’m Used To’, and another of the five encore tracks (adding another thirty minutes to the show) was the Goldfrapp remix of ‘Halo’.  These tweaks and changes are what keep Depeche Mode ahead of the pack.  Even down to copying the synth sound from The Saturdays’ cover of ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ to bring it bang up to date.

‘Behind The Wheel’, a live favourite, had crowd jumping, and one of the most perfect pop songs of recent times, ‘Enjoy The Silence’ was absolutely sublime.  ‘A Question Of Time’, ‘I Feel You’, ‘Personal Jesus’, need I say any more?  Ending with ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ and those waving arms, Depeche Mode finally left the stage after two hours of entertainment and twenty songs.

Depeche Mode are, without any shadow of doubt one of the hottest properties around, and with an expected gross revenue of $200,000,000 for the tour that will continue until March 2014, you can see why.

The Basildon boys have done good.



Published on Louder Than War 21/11/13 - here

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Music - Part 144 - Drop Electric

Drop Electric – Waking Up To The Fire (Lefse Records)
Out Now

Washington DC post pop rockers, Drop Electric, release their new album.

Drop Electric can write a tune or two you know.  The four piece, made up of the children of immigrant families, make music that is both appealing and well constructed.  Mixes of electronica and rock come together with some heavy bass and good solid pop rock songs.  There are nice effects thrown in too, ‘Wack Rapper Admits Defeat’ (aside from being a wonderful sing title) is a short instrumental full of crackling sounds to a near reggae/trip hop mix.  Short and sweet

Lyrics and vocals are provided by Kristina Reznikov, and whilst the words aren’t always decipherable, it does create an air of mystique sandwiched somewhere between Sigur Ros and Elizabeth Fraser.  Whilst the PR claims her vocals soar, they rarely do, but to be honest it’s a claim that is really unnecessary.  Her vocals are competent and polished without over hyping, and compliment the backing with ease.

The title track starts with a monotone eeriness which soon incorporates a strong synth hook and spiralling vocals.  There’s a vocoder somewhere along the line which is unwelcome but thankfully limited which doesn’t detract from an incredibly infectious melody.

‘Blue Dream’ is another strong track with a stomp drum and again very catchy chorus in a song that is destined for bigger things.  Think Cocteau Twins hinged to some good 80s pop and you won’t be far wrong, complete with cries, loops and shouts it’s a fine track, likewise with ‘Starfox’ which has a vocal that seems to be out of time with the music but just seems to work perfectly.

Album closer ‘Among Dying Dreams’ again rises from the embers and maintains an infectious quality throughout.  A five and a half minute instrumental where hints of  Visage, ABC and countless other great bands from yesteryear can be hard against a very unique backdrop of their own.

In essence, Drop Electric are no mugs.  In ‘Waking Up To The Fire’ they display a confidence and maturity which is beyond their years and have released an album which really deserves some positive acclaim.  



Published by Louder Than War 19/11/13 - here

Monday, 18 November 2013

Music - Part 143 - Pop Will East Itself

Pop Will Eat Itself  - Now For A Feast (Cherry Red Records)
Out Now


80s alternative rock band, Pop Will Eat Itself, have their 1988 compilation re-released by Cherry Red.

The late 80s spurned a clutch of anarchic sounding alternative pop rock that seemed, for a couple of years to fill a wanting in British music.  Pop Will Eat Itself, Jesus Jones, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Carter USM and The Wonder Stuff (who’s lead singer Miles Hunt was drummer for an early incarnation of PWEI, From Eden), gave us explosive, carefree, sometimes comical music which had the acclaim to dominate but never really got beyond that.  Sure, they tickled the top end of the charts at the time, but their legacy is probably more important now than the groups were at the time.

PWEI were/are underrated.  Fact.  Their blend of stark and incisive comment and wit has long since departed and there really is nothing to compare nowadays.  Their mix of hip hop/dance/rock (which was polished and perfected for the Charts by Wiltshire boys Jesus Jones) gave a raw, almost punkesque feel to potentially great pop songs.

‘Now For A Feast’ covers the first year of the band and is amazingly the sixth time the album has been released and/or re-packaged.  This time round it includes extra tracks consisting of unheard demos, live versions and later versions – in total a whacking twenty-eight tracks. There are some great, new sleeve notes from guitarist/keyboardist Adam Mole in the accompanying twelve page booklet too.

From the fifty-nine second ‘Candydiosis’ to the cover of the Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s incredibly underrated ‘Love Missile F1-11’, PWEI steam through an endless foray of high powered compositions.

Titles like ‘There’s A Psychopath In My Soup’ and ‘Black Country Chainstore Massacree’ don’t fail to disappoint and ‘Monogamy’ is sheer bliss.

It’s all good stuff and the prospects of getting bored with any track are slim as many are over before you get the chance.  Paving the way for classics like Def Con One’ and ‘Can U Dig It’, ‘Now For A Feast’ is a little gem.

Cherry Red Records
PWEI website
PWEI on Twitter

Published on Louder Than War 15/11/13 - here

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Music - Part 142 - Sherwood & Pinch

Sherwood & Pinch – Music Killer (On-U Sound)
Out now


On-U Sound supremo Adrian Sherwood, and dub step artist DJ Pinch release their second collaboration.  

Slightly biased, but for me Sherwood can really do no wrong.  After over thirty years at the helm of one of the most underrated record labels around today, he constantly hits us with tracks that are always new and innovative, and above all, bloody good.

The pairing with Bristonian DJ Pinch is yet another master stroke, as the man known for his dubstep fusions with reggae and jazz, whilst vocals are supplied by Mikey Dread, Congo Ashanti Roy, Rebel MC and Lee Perry over an unmistakable sound.

The follow up to debut ‘Bring Me Weed’ has heavy bass and wobbles more than a mighty Jah, the drum beat is unmistakably On-U with its clinical snared edge and a more dancehall orientated sound which will blow you away when played with any decent volume.  There are also several Sherwood tricks and sounds thrown on along the way which will appease his fan base.

It’s catchy enough to attract new fans and its drive is certainly appealing and addictive.  It’s pacey and powerful and deserves to be heard all over the place, and if you’re in the right clubs then you’re bound to hear it.

There are dubs as you’d expect and the accompanying ‘Dubplate Pressure’ version does exactly what it says on the sleeve which displays a wry sense of humour with an adaptation of the Spotify logo.  Having a dig at Nu Skool? You better believe it.

The combination of the two artists certainly initially raised eyebrows but the pairing has proved that it is exciting, and with an album promised for 2014 may possibly also have some longevity.  


Published on Louder Than War 12/11/13 - here

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

News - Feral Five Release 'Fans Skin' Video

A few months ago, when friends of hiapop Blog Feral Five released possibly the single of 2013, they asked for contributory film clips for their rather wonderful 'Skin' track.

Many people obliged and the video is now available to watch, cringe, squirm and dance to.

Look out for a hiapop hand at 1:10 !

If forthcoming single, 'Strung Out' is anything to go by, you could do a lot worse than start giving the Ferals a listen right now.

Friday, 8 November 2013

News - Felabration 2013

On Saturday, 14 December 2013, at the 229 venue in Central London, a celebration of a special kind will take place - FELABRATION: honouring the life and legacy of Fela Anikulapo Kuti - and supporting the recent release of the AIDS charity compilation 'RED HOT + FELA'. Joining in the celebration on the night will beOLUGBENGA (Metronomy), Baloji, Sam Duckworth (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly), Shingai Shoniwa (Noisettes), TY, Blak Twang, ESKA, Zee Gachette (Z-Star)and very special guests. The musicians, singers and rappers will offer their interpretations of Fela songs, aided and abetted by the musical backdrop provided by The Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra led by none other than the inimitable keyboard player Dele Sosimi who formerly played and toured with Fela's Egypt 80 band. 
Fela has been gone 16 years now but keeping his legacy alive and introducing his music and message to an ever-growing audience is a mission for Dele and Fela's legions of admirers. Were he still alive today, 15 October, would have been Fela Kuti's 75th birthday. This has been celebrated with Felabrations taking place all over the planet (Lagos, Brussels, Paris, 13 across America, Osaka and heaven knows where else). Now it's London's turn to pay homage to The Black President.
2013 has been a busy year with Fela's entire 46 album catalogue having been re-packaged and re-released by Knitting Factory Records. October also saw the release of 'RED HOT + FELA', a compilation album containing interpretations of Fela songs by a raft of top drawer artists including Angelique Kidjo, ?uestlove (The Roots), M1 (Dead Prez), Spoek Mathambo, tUnE-yArDs, Nneka, Kronos Quartet, Tony Allen, Baloji, Chance The Rapper, My Morning Jacket and others. All profits from this album go towards HIV/AIDS education and relief worldwide.