aural delights….show one

Broadcast : 1st September 2010

After wearing myself out somewhat with the “high pressure – lots of guests” show “Reformation” I decided to have a break from a radio show that was non-jazz, newer music. However after a lot of comments from friends about the abrupt ending of the old show, I reconsidered and  I asked the station if I could slip into a new later night slot where the emphasis would be more on music with less chat and no session guests – working on the assumption I could put together a show like that with less effort and stress. Fortunately a slot came available at 11pm on Wednesday so a new show called “Aural Delights” emerged. The emphasis, to kick off with, will be catching up on new releases or things I have come across via my nocturnal scouring of the ‘net. Eventually I will want to focus on unsigned bands from the Salford and Greater Manchester area, and this will tie in with a feature Tony Thornborough (Mondays at 9pm) and I will be doing on the station’s website.

So to kick the balance is towards a variety of material from across what might loosely be called the “rock” spectrum. I came across the first band “Meanwhile, Back in Communist Russia” on a progressive rock blog. They are best described as post-rock, they played between 1999-2004 before splitting into several directions. Their album “My Elixir, My Poison” takes the post-rock mores into a different area with Emily Gray’s monologues which make for interesting listening. The track played is “Chinese Lantern”.

Australian band “All India Radio” follow with “Four Three” from the 2006 album “Echo Other” – the music of the group described elsewhere as a mix of Portishead, Boards of Canada, Brian Eno, Massive Attack and Cinematic Orchestra. Frankly those comparisons are a tad weak and the band has a great  fresh feel of its own. I was taken with the arrangement of the songs and the atmospheric quality of the production.

“Johnny Dowd” is a not so guilty pleasure. Not necessarily a big Country and Western fan it’s of interest to me to find an artist who can de-construct the medium and make it a little more edgy and less glossy/glitzy than is the norm. There is a sense of the gothic with a rich undercurrent of black humour in his work as typified by “Rose Tattoo” from “The Pawnbrokers Wife” album. I’ve whittered on about the new “Dave Graney” album on these pages in a separate blog so I won’t over-egg the mix – suffice to say he is one of our greatest songwriters and the arrangements on the album “Supermodified” are stunning especially “All our friends were stars”.

In the same ilk as Johnny Dowd, “Those Poor Bastards” are “gothic” country and western and definately not for the faint hearted – with “My Last Dollar” from the aptly entitled “Songs of Desperation”. Californian band “The Plimsouls” have been around since 1978 and after a split in the mid 80s have re-united sporadically since then. The track “Shaky City” is from this years “Live, Beg, Borrow and Steal!” album which is a recording of a gig in 1981.

A touch of jamming psychedelia up next with “Major Stars” and “No Higher Meaning” from “Distant Effect”  who go at it full tilt in retro rock fashion calling to mind late 60s Cream and Hendrix albums … which reminds me I must track down their new album. After that a bit of a career shift from the “I’m having a gap year” work of “Ryan Adams” with the metal influenced “Disappyramid” from the “Orion” album, which is definate move. away from his most recent work with The Cardinals.

After all that loud rock music a bit of progressive ambient music with Boston-based indie electronic artist “Helios” (who is Keith Kenniff) and the track “The Toy Garden” from the “Eingya” album demonstrates his mastery of the post-rock world. Continuing in a similar vein “Hammock”, who effortlessly mix beats with guitar drones to create a lush sound – the track played is “Kenotic” which is also the title of the 2005 album from which it came; and then “God Is An Astronaut” who make a strong claim to being the best Irish indie export of the 2000s (maybe neck and neck with “And So I Watch You From Afar” , thanks to epic melodic of post-rock and a smidgen of Kraut and Space rock. To conclude the prog section of the show a dip in the archives to one of the earlier “Yes”  albums and “Sweet Dreams” from “Time and A Word” with the signature Hammond Sound from Tony Kaye and the pre-Howe stylings of Peter Banks.

The show concludes with a couple of local bands “Suzuki/Method” with “Purple Aki” from their forthcoming EP on Factory Foundation (the band is appearing on Shell Zenner’s show at 9pm Thursday 2nd September on Salford City Radio) and Irlam’s finest “The Black Knights” from with “Vampire Rave” from the great album “Sickle Sell Saturday Night”.

Listen Again Here

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album of the year 2010……

Always a difficult choice, made even more so difficult this year by the veritable cavalcade of excellent albums released in the general locality of where I reside so in order to fit it all into a 60 minute radio show I opted for concentration on the local stuff, with a couple of notable exceptions.  I make no apologies for focusing on Salford and Greater Mancunia artists as I honestly believe there is some excellent music being made around these parts at the moment.

This is the first of five shows over the Christmas period which will select best albums, single/ep/demo, gigs, session and finally band/artist of the year

So what got left out? – well I thought I’d compile a sort of list of the top 50 ones that have either made it onto shows, or have proved pleasurable listening. What’s been somewhat difficult has been a rush of excellent releases towards the latter end of the year and there are still four weeks of 2010 to go so perhaps I should have done this in January – never mind, what’s done is done. So this is the best of rest. The order and the numbering is pretty arbritrary and I’m pretty sure i’ve left out something which I really like but hey-ho it’s just a bit of fun. More importantly I think is the anticipated arrival of the new Amplifier album which sounds very promising indeed.

I have to thank my partners in radio Mr Montgomery, Mr Doyle, Mr Thornborough, Mr Coupe and Ms Zenner for sharing some excellent music with me throughout 2010 and a special “oi up me duck” to the Great Gibbo without whose diligent exploration of new music I would be less knowledgeable than I am.

Disappointments were the new Elvis Costello – which I thought was a little predictible and frankly lazy….and Darker My Love who I think lost the plot somewhat. There were a lot more vying to get on this list but I decided to go for a healthy mix of styles of genres which best reflected my listening. I’ve deliberately left out the more mainstream artists as they get enough column inches already – with the notable inclusion however of some of my particular passions in Mr Springsteen and Ms Newsom.

So in some sort of order here’s my favourites of the year 50 down to 14.

50. Bullets in Madison – We Became Your Family When You Died

49. Conductive Alliance – Water Glyphs

48. Amurekimuri – Amurekimuri

47. Deerhunter – Halycon Digest

46. Eleh – Location Momentum

45. Eluvium – Similes

44. Ty Segall – Melted

43. The Sadies – Cut Corners

42. The Unwinding Hours – The Unwinding Hours

41. The Spacious Mind – The Mind of a Brother

40. Midlake – The Courage of Others

39. Archie Bronson Outfit – Coconut

38. Amiina – Puzzle

37. Invisible Elephant – The Lights Go Out

36. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me

35. Stars Make Shapes – These Mountains are Safe

34. Robin Hitchcock and the Venus Three – Propeller Time

33. Red Sparowes – The Fear is Excruciating but Therein Lies the Answer

32. Silver Mount Zion – Kollaps Tradioxionales

31. PVT – Church With No Magic

30. Killing Joke – Absolute Dissent

29. Bruce Springsteen – The Promise

28. Fang Island – Fang Island

27. AMM – Sounding Music

26. Martha Tilston – Lucy and the Wolves

25. Salem – King Night

24. Maserati – Pyramid of the Sun

23. Gazpacho – Missa Atropos

22. Hammock – Chasin’ After Shadows…Living With Ghosts

21. God is an Astronaut – Age of the Fifth Sun

20. Forest Swords – Dagger Paths

19. First Aid Kit – The Big Black and the Blue

18. ZX+ – +

17. The Strange Boys – Be Brave

16. Sakert! – Facit

15. 65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway

14. Chrome Hoof – Chrush Depth

So i’m down to the top 13 (this is the number of tracks that fits best in the show length – no other arcane reason than this…..)

13. Rob Jungklas – Mapping the Wreckage

I was blown away by the dirtier sound that Jungklas has continued to use since his return from a sabbatical away from the industry. This years album was full of down and dirty blues with some exceptional slide playing.

12. Day for Airstrikes – Into the Comet

Manchester’s post-rock heroes have been away for far too long and this release – which was extremely long in its gestation – finally emerged at various points in 2010 in various forms – they are stunning live and this album effectively captures their work in 2010.

11. Charlie Barnes – Geekk

I first saw Charlie at a Kin gig in late 2009 and was mightily impressed with his song-writing talents and great voice. He did a great session for me in 2010 and released his debut album which is packed with excellent songs.

10. Moff Skellington – Sperm Jingle Harvest

For a man who released four albums in 2010 its difficult to pick one out as a highlight so i’ve done it at random. The other three are equally as good. He is a true iconoclast and a really nice chap. He deserves a much wider audience.

9. Fall Fan Dave and the Lap Top Dancers – Mind Carved Canoe

Another unique and compelling artists. Someone whose music I have been listening to for a few years now and with this his first album delivered a fascinating set of tunes – diverse and challenging music.

8. AAAK – The Collection

After a long lay-off Ding and Paul brought back their pulsating E.B.M. Building Scape Beats back with great danceable tunes with a great industrial feel. A fantastic double CD which remakes their old tunes on disc one, and provides a great history of the early work of the band on disc two.

7. Dave Graney and the Lurid Yellow Mist – Supermodified

The high priest of cool remaking some older tunes in a new setting. Excellent and memorable song-writing and performing of the highest quality.

6. The Blue Orchids – Slum Cavern Jest

The re-release of the last Blue Orchids album which contains some memorable performances from Martin Bramah – in the absence of studio recordings from Factory Star this is an ample substitute. Martin’s reading of Fred Neil’s “Green Rocky Road” is a particular favourite.

5. The Jannocks – The Jannocks

An exceptional debut from a great band somewhat spoiled by their dissolution in the Autumn when singer Tom Warden emigrated to the Antipodes. Some amazing guitar work and a treatise on the use of feedback in rock!

4. Spencer Cloud and The Range Brothers – Spencer Cloud and The Range Brothers

Another great debut from a band which prides itself on great song-writing and strong vocal performances. Mostly recorded in a garage in Marple and a front room in Romiley this is a class album.

3. The Black Knights – Sickle Sell Saturday Night

A blistering first album from the Irlam duo – voodoo trash blues of the highest order with enough chutzpah to blow a hole in anyone’s ozone layer.

2. The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter

Another great album from the Bard of Prestwich who seems to be turning into a heavy metal fan – a wonderful collection of Fall riffs and repetition.

1. The Inflictors – The Inflictors

A stunning collection of fantastic songs from a band that are so tight they make the bottoms of aquatic fowls look like a wide expanse. One of the best debut albums i’ve ever heard. Stunning song-writing, three great guitarists and fantastic rhythm section. The most read review on this blog and album that demands your attention!