Some albums don’t fall under your radar until well after release. Some albums deserve to be reviewed whatever the day, month or year. Here are four such albums.
I’ve decided to group them together because I think you should hear them all. They’re differing styles and genres but all relevant. The all display an extraordinary sound and uniqueness that you should be witness too.
Please take time to at least listen to the tracks below, and you never know, you might just be impressed.
Radio Europa - Rise Of The Gutterzz Press and the Death Of Modern Thought (Malt Barn Recordings)
From Carmarthen come the amazing sounds of Radio Europa. “Born out of depression, addiction and love of the strange” is an album that is as original as it is startling.
Shrouded in mystery, Radio Europa present a fine collection of experimental/avant garde spoken word and poetry. Profanity is joined hand in hand by distorted rhythms and unhinged effects. It’s often haunting and bordering on horror, but it possesses a quality and a near anarchy which is rarely found.
It transcends many of the ‘safe’ guidelines that artists seem to adhere to, and it dares to be different. It rips an extra hole in the arse of everything else you will hear on the tv and radio. It changes your perception of music in less than twenty-three minutes.
Meandering through disjointed sound scapes there is no pattern, no template. It merely follows a path of indeterminable direction. Loosing (sic?) features whispered vocals over a minimal background mish-mash, and It’s Grim In The Bin whilst less than thirty seconds long has a potential anger bottled up ready to explode.
Rise Of The Gutterzz Press blows away any cobwebs that may have accumulated in your grey matter and is one of the year’s finest releases.
Dan Friel – Life (Thrill Jockey)
More electronic distortion comes in the form of Brooklyn based Dan Friel.
2013s Total Folklore album was nothing short of superb, and Life isn’t far behind. Allegedly influenced by the birth if his Son, Wolf in the same year, Life carries on the theme of distorted crunches and screeching synth patterns. There is often a pure pop melody desperate to break free, take Lungs for example – a lovely innocent melody is invaded and intruded and given a fierce attitude.
What perhaps makes Life so acceptable is that every track has an infectious descant fighting to break free, it is then buried under a mass of noise and feedback and general grunge fuzz. From Friels haunting interpretation of a nursery rhyme-esque tune in opening Lullaby (For Wolf) which leads directly into Cirrus, the infectious melodies are laid down and ridden over by distortion and feedback.
Recent single Rattler is nothing short of anarchic genius and is cleverly subdued by the accompanying video featuring bouncy, laughing children. Sleep Deprivation surely pays further homage to becoming and Father and Life Pt 1 steams along like a runaway train.
Fold – Fold
CD / DL
Ok, so inserting film and tv clips into songs is no new thing, there is however a knack to making it successful – just ask Public Service Broadcasting. On their debut album, Leeds quartet Fold mix hip-hop with electronic beats, soul, funk and more than a splattering of political consciousness.
Also in recent demand as remixers for PSB and the mighty rappers Ceiling Demons (Every Step), the ten tracks on their eponymous album are nothing short of brilliantly planned and executed. With guest ‘appearances’ from John Lennon to Bruce Lee, from JFK to MLK, the album is enthralling and exciting from the very first note.
Mr President We’re In Trouble is a gripping soundtrack to Jimmy Carter’s 1979 speech to congress detailing his concern over energy, families and war – maybe more relevant now than it has ever been. It’s actually heart-breaking stuff.
A Victims Mentality brushes with jazz and soul elements are used on She, and what s maybe compelling about the album is that it always remains interesting and fresh and thoroughly entertaining.
Music and politics shouldn’t mix? Forget that.
Pulco – A Dip In The Ocean
Quite how Pulco stayed off the hiapop radar for so long is quite bewildering. Ash Cooke is one of those rare artists nowadays that can write instant, poppy, very likeable songs which will invariably make you tap a finger, foot or other appendage with very little effort.
The Welsh D.I.Y. artist has been making music for almost two decades. Originally with the group Derrero who have the honour of being included in a Peel Festive 50, Pulco is both commercial and experimental in entirely satisfactory amounts.
A Dip In The Ocean does exactly what it says and combines eighteen tracks from a career that continues to flourish and attract new fans along the way. From the opening Song 37 with it’s see-sawing sea rhythm, to the chunky bass line of the downright weird Sleazy Paddocks and the recent release Bakesale, Pulco is not only affectionate songs bound together by exquisite melodies and gorgeous voice, but also sometimes downright bonkers (this is good).
Well known in musician circles, the time has surely come for Pulco to come to the attention of a wider public and thus stunning collection should really be the thing to persuade any non-believers.