Friday, 26 December 2014

Music - Part 378 - Twenty Fifteen 7" Singles

How I miss the 7” single.  They epitomised the music industry.  They were God.

Top Of The Pops on a Thursday night, then down to WH Smiths at the weekend to buy the single.  I always felt cheated if there wasn’t a picture sleeve, or if an instrumental version of the single was on the b-side.

My huge collection if stored alphabetically in handmade DJ boxes I made out of cardboard.

Again, considering some of the rubbish I bought I think I’ve come out with some credibility:

20.  Adam And The Ants – Ant Rap



15.  Adam And The Ants – Antmusic




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Music - Part 377 - Twenty Fifteen 12" Singles

As my desire for non-standard music grew in the 80s I found my temporary solace in 12” mixes, extended versions and rare tracks.

I have a reasonably healthy collection of alphabetically filed 12” singles some of which I’m very proud of, some less do.

Fortunately, the 20th and 15th discs are pretty credible as opposed to some of the garbage I ‘may’ have purchased in my youth:


20.  The Big Dish - Slide



15.  The Assembly – Never Never



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Music - Part 376 - Twenty Fifteen Vinyl Albums

Aaah vinyl albums.  The touch, the feel, the smell – you can’t beat it and I for one am smugly pleased that they have made a comeback.

Unfortunately, with lack of space and small child, they don’t see the light of day too often.  They are also in no particular order following a house move over five years ago.

Thumbing through them is a story of my 80s childhood and there are several albums that I either forgot I owned, or didn’t even know I possessed! (see number 15 below)

The 20th and 15th vinyl albums are:

20.  The Icicle Works – Small Price Of A Bicycle



15.  Eurythmics – Touch Dance




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Music - Part 375 - Twenty Fifteen Digitals

Digital – stored automatically alphabetically.

 I’m not a fan of digital releases.  I really don’t see the point of shelling out money and not getting anything ‘physical’.  Maybe I’m just a bit Old Skool.

My digital collection has only really come into serious collection since I started reviewing for Louder Than War so is reasonably small and only the albums I like are kept.
The 20th and 15th digital thingies are:


20.  Ceiling Demons – Dual Sides



15.  Cabaret Voltaire - Micro-Phonies



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Music – Part 374 – Twenty Fifteen CD Singles

How is your music collection filed?
My cd singles are not huge in collection, and to be frank are rarely played.  They are currently stored in two ways.  One lot are filed within the main bulk of my cd albums, the second lot are ones I brought straight after moving house and have never got around to intermingling them with the others.
From the random collection, the 20th and 15th cd singles are:

20.  Depeche Mode - Dream On


15.  Depeche Mode - The Policy Of Truth



Still to come – digital, vinyl albums, vinyl 7” and vinyl 12” !

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Music - Part 373 - Twenty Fifteen CDs

Nope, I’m not asking you to pick your favourite album of 2015 already, more a little bit of fun.

Do you file your music collection in an order?  Alphabetically?  Chronologically?  Digitally?  By genre?  Completely mixed up?

Alphabetically has always been the way for me (with numbers preceding the letter ‘A’, and don’t forget that ‘Mc’ and ‘Mac’ come before ‘M’ – that’s what once being a librarian dos for you!)’.  In my opinion t’s the only way to find something quickly and easily, and simple for anyone else to get one on your behalf too!

So here are the 20th and 15th cd albums in my collection.

20.  The B52s - Best Of – Dance This Mess Around



15.  Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine




Next up – cds singles, vinyl albums, digital, vinyl 7” and vinyl 12” !


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Music - Part 372 - Cliff Martinez

Cliff Martinez – Far Cry 4 Original Game Soundtrack (Invada)
Out Now (Vinyl early 2015)

Acclaimed Hollywood composer releases game soundtrack.  

What I knew about Cliff Martinez was about equal to what I know about 21st Century gaming, which in turn can probably be written on a pin head.  Gone are the days of discovering that Space Invaders could give way to something as amazing as Galaxians, and then wondering how Track And Field and The Empire Strikes Back could ever be bettered.  However, I digress.

Far Cry 4 is (obviously) the fourth in the series of the franchise and from what I’ve seen continues a slightly worrying theme of ultra-violence (I’m not being boring or a prude, just stating a fact) that seems to have swept through modern day gaming.  I’m no expert and fans will surely tell me why I don’t know what I’m talking about, but my limited understanding of the subject matter in the likes of Grand Theft Auto and Call Of Duty  does alarm me.  Anyway, I digress again.

Cliff Martinez it would appear is a well-known composer.  My ignorance is shameful particularly as he has played drums with the likes of Captain Beefheart, The Dickies and Red Hot Chilli Peppers (with whom he was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame for his work of their debut album) and is clearly an artist of demand.

The physical releases of the album come with extra discs which contains around forty-five minutes of additional music, that’s quite something given the strength of the music on offer.  Obviously here to accompany the game, it will surely provide a powerful and evocative backdrop to the scene changes.

Far Cry 4 is the first time Martinez has made music for the gaming genre and based on this he will make much more.  The tracks range from deeply atmospheric, ambient numbers to rousing powerhouses with superb percussion, and of the forty-four tracks on the cd it’s difficult to not enjoy everything.  Each track is equally as impressive as a standalone and every second is precisely thought out.

It’s easy to see how the music compliments each scene from the sublime to the raucous, and Martinez clearly had an idea that he has transformed from visual to aural with perfection.

There is one huge downside to the cd, and unfortunately it’s nothing related to the music.  A split second from every track appears at the end of the previous one making it sound like jumping vinyl.  It’s annoying and detracting and sadly threatens to spoil the atmosphere on several moments.



Published on Louder Than War 18/12/14 - here

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Music - Part 371 - Sky Valley Mistress

Sky Valley Mistress – Rivals, Hounds & Rebel Sisters (Holy Roller Records)
Out Now

Blackburn rockers release their new EP.  

Last years The Best Thing You’ve Never Heard certainly introduced Sky Valley Mistress to the World with a colossal bang, and their new EP does little to tell us that the band re likely to calm down.

Rivals Hounds & Rebel Sisters brings three new tracks, each one as powerful as the last with distinct influences form 70s rock along the lines of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.  Kayley’s voice has grown stronger, and has great big metaphorical testicles, as her tones screech and growl as though her life depending on it.  Couple that with some fine musicianship from the rest of the band and Sky Valley Mistress should really be playing to a larger audience quite soon.

With a sound that far belies their years the group rip through a trio of songs with commanding and transparent ease.  Opener, Smoke Fairy has a superb guitar riff which threatens to break free from the convention of a regular song and despite the hook ‘Pseudo queen’ sounding like every parents saviour Sudocrem, it’s catchy and more than capable of becoming an earworm for the day.

Second track Wishbone provides more than a passing resemblance to Whole Lotta Love on occasion which is no bad thing with vocals that effortlessly move from deep to high, and another memorable riff which underpins the verses superbly.

Final track, She Is So has a killer bassline and picks up the pace with a track which is well capable of being the lead track for any release.   Drums roll along and take the track into a mid-track bridge which helps gel the whole thing together.

Another fine EP from Sky Valley Mistress who ooze confidence and aplomb in equal measures.


Holy Roller Records
Sky Valley Mistress website
Sky Valley on Twitter
Sky Valley on Facebook

Published on Louder Than War 17/12/14 - here

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Monday, 22 December 2014

Music - Part 370 - Pulco Releases New (Old) Album

That there Pulco man has released a 'new' album of instrumental material originally recorded in 2001 with some 'extra bits and bobs'.

You can listen to the album below, or buy it for as little as 99p to help the chap make more lovely tunes.

The Pulco website is here.

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Music - Part 369 - Centre Excuse | Biscuithead & The Badgers | Σtella | The Ship-Tones | Tim Held |

More singles from those kind PR folks.  Will they get lost in the Xmas bonkers weeks?  Time will only tell:

Centre Excuse – Worthless (New Motion Records)

Nice enough Indie 80s sounding pop effort.  A tale of worthlessness from Teddy Lewis who does everything on the single from vocals, synths and programming to a ripping guitar which energises the track.    Catchy chorus and loads of life.


The Centre Excuse website is here.

Biscuithead & The Biscuit Badgers – Snow (Crabophone)

More from the utterly insane Dinosaurs At My Caravan album.  A song about, well, snow.  Full of life and a mini lesson in science complimented with their trademark brass section. Not as strong as some of the other tracks on the album, but it is Xmas.


The Biscuithead website is here.  

Σtella – Picking Words (Inner Ear Records)

Stella Chronopoulou (aka Σtella) releases a delightful modern day Indie disco/dance single.  Athens born Stella has a strng voice at times not unlike La Roux.  Picing Words is taken from the forthcoming Happened Before album.  A supern bass line underpins a highly infectious melody and vocal.  Definatly one to watch an an album to look forward to.


The Σtella website is here.   

The Ship-Tones Featurng Edwyn Collins - Dilemma (Philophobia)

Leeds based duo The Ship-Tones will be releaseing reggae reworks of standard rock znd pop tracks featuring the original vocalist.  First up is the legend that is Edwyn Collins with a version of th track fro 2013s Undertstated album.  A delightful lazy roots track with some lovely subtle dubs.  Collins’ vocals compliment the style perfectly and an album from The Ship-Tones is eagerly awaited here at hiapop Blog.


The Ship-Tones website is here.

Tim Held – Pimp Squad (Mama I Love You)

Tim Held allows the word free access to another of his incredible workings in th form of a free download.  2014s Alb(Lum) was a major triumph and his January scheduled follow up, TypicalHaunts looks like following suit.  Pimp Squad isn’t included on the album but does give us an insight into the experimental world of Held with cut-ups, crunches and bassy beats.  Brilliant stuff.


More Tim Held on Bandcamp here.  

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Music - Part 368 - Christmas Joy In Full Measure

Various – Christmas Joy In Full Measure (Hand Of Glory)
Out Now

Hand Of Glory release a compilation album of original Xmas songs.

Billing themselves as ‘the World’s Greatest record label’ is something to live up to but Hand Of Glory have certainly given it all that they’  got.  Christmas Joy In Full Measure brings together twelve artists, each with an original season related song to give one of the most eclectic alternative Xmas albums you’ll probably hear.

Label founder, Mary Epworth opens with The Wolf And The Woods which celebrates people bringing the outdoors into their homes.  It touches Goldfrapp territory circa Red Cherry as its magical bass line is complimented by haunting voices and echoes with a sleigh bell feel.  It’s a track that grows listen upon listen and is a fitting beginning.

The obvious Xmas feel continues with a clever song from Young Knives.  With no chorus, the song is constructed using several verses performed in various harmonies created a neo-Carol feel describing the modern Xmas.

The feel of the album then takes a dramatic turn as Be A Ghost sees Extradition Order in a Mark E Smith/Mark Stewart guise visits Warrington’s pubs.  The Count Of Chateau Noir give another arrangement which is maybe more historic than modern.  Several voices take part on Awake Awake, some which are better than others, it’s a toe-tapper and often displays a dark humour.

Papernut Cambridge give us a potted science lesson on 93 Million And One and explain the reason for snow is something to do with the Earth’s axis in a gentle, wistful track that makes your feet go all toasty. 

Two tracks stand out in particular – On Christmas Day by Citizen Helene recounts Beach Boys harmonies successfully, and The Webb Brothers contribute the album highlight with a song that has all the feel and emotion of the yuletide songs of the 70s.  Think George Harrison with Wizzard and The Glitter Band and you won’t be far off.  Are You Coming Home For Christmas is the first new Webb track for five years and is well worth the wait.

Kiran Leonard questions the concept of Father Christmas via the eyes (and mind) of a young boy whilst going slightly prog, and Aliens Pat skilfully destroys every child’s dream in the twelve seconds of Santa Fell Down The Chimney and the bearded man’s death.

Jon Epworth, Canadian cousin of Mary rams good old rock ‘n’ roll down our turkey filled throats with the wonderful Atheist containing some superb guitars. The Unwritten Christmas Card sees a tale of sadness from The Outdoor Types as they ponder over lost love and the reasons of life.  Closing the album with the appropriately named Richard Holley, Old Year’s Night provides an evocative lament recounting the previous year.

If you’re fed up with Xmas already, Christmas Joy In Full Measure may just give you something to look forward to again.


Hand Of Glory website
Hand Of Glory on Twitter
Hand Of Glory on Facebook

Published on Louder Than War 15/12/14 - here

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Music - Part 367 - De Staat

De Staat – Vinticious Versions (Mascot Label Group)
Out Now

Dutch alternative rock quintet release their new EP.  

Vinticious Versions is a collection of De Staat tracks from their first three albums.  It’s a strange beast.  On first listening it sounds like a collection of novelty songs, silly and quite childish.  It still does on the second, and the third.

There’s something not quite sitting correctly about it.  Get It Together, the EP opener has some Eastern sounding instrumentation as does second track Build That Buy That.  The later sounding like something off children’s TV.  Being unfamiliar with De Staat, it’s difficult to see if that is the intention.

Input Source Select then takes us on a rap vocal in the style of The Beastie Boys. In fact the track is cheeky and has a slightly tongue-in cheek sound in the same way that the New York trio had.  Drums have the characteristic hip-hop beat and the track itself is harmless enough.

The EP boasts to ‘take you on a trip down an alternative pathway’, but it’s not altogether clear where De Staat are going as Down Town has slightly 60s induced influences.  Vocals are semi-spoken and grizzly and it’s appealing as the staggered female vocal makes up the hook line.

The group are big in their homeland and even performed at Glastonbury five years ago so they’re obviously doing something right, but to be frank, it’s hard to put your finger on what it is.  The varying styles continue with All Is Dull, an attempt at a lethargic pop-reggae number which again sounds like the band aren’t to be taken seriously.

As Devil’s Blood plays a near homage to Charles And Eddie it becomes clear that De Staat don’t really seem to have a sound of their own, instead apparently journeying through varying  forms of anything that takes their fancy.

Sweatshop is appalling as differing members of the group take a turn at providing voices, and Wait For Evolution (whilst having a great bassline) combines a rap vocal with a pretty fierce guitar providing probably the highlight of the EP.   Unfortunately, it all seems too much too late and the effect has gone.

Maybe one day De Staat will return and say ‘told you so’ as they launch themselves onto every TV and radio show in the land, but in the meantime it’s all very peculiar.


Mascot Label Group
De Staat website
De Staat on Twitter
De Staat on Facebook

Published on Louder Than War 15/12/14 - here

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