Music Diaries #13-16

A recurring viral attack (no it’s not man-flu!) has somewhat restricted activity so this is by way of a four day catch-up. Deep breath in and here we go again…..

THE SEXUAL OBJECTS – I have been meaning to get my act together and check out Davey Henderson’s post Nectarine No 9 activities for a while now. The announcement of a gig at Gullivers in March featuring said band and three of my current favourites (Factory Star, Kill Pretty and Taser Puppets) jolted me out of my post-viral fog. “Cucumber” is the name of the album and rather spiffing it is too. It’s not that significantly different from his work with the Nectarines other than it is a little less intense/a bit more pop. Another example of one of those great writers  hovering around the fringes of the music industry that never quite got the kudos he  deserves. Anyway I suggest you check them out either via this album or attending the Gullivers event. Four great bands for £7 has to be a bargain in anyones musical book.

HONG KONG IN THE 60s – I have to thank my chum Keith for pointing me in the direction of this band. So far I have only managed to track down their “Willow Pattern Songs” EP which is a gorgeous delight of a thing. I was immediately drawn in by the arpeggiating guitars, brittle synths and airy vocals of “Footsteps”. Their bio on the Soundcloud page says they are Mei Yau Kan – vocals, guitar, keyboards, Christopher Greenberg – keyboards, guitar, vocals, and Tim Scullion – guitar, keyboards, vocals. They say they are heavily influenced by early electronic pop, 1960s Chinese music and Italian film soundtracks. Using their collection of old Casio keyboards, the group combine bittersweet pop melodies and atmospheric electronics to create something pretty special.

THE PABLOS – another excellent find by Mr Tony Thornborough – he shared three of this bands tracks with me which stuffed with garage-ness, Doors-ness and Rolling Stones-ish. They are from Leeds and Lauren Laverne thinks they are groovy so there is no need for me to push them too much as they appear to be well on the way to stardom in the murky world of rock and roll. More info on Facebook in you want…… p.s.  the singist does sound like he is channeling Jim M at times…..

DEAN McPHEE – another Keith recommendation. A four track LP called “Son of the Black Peace” which is all ethereal guitars and ambient soundscapes. Not bad but I do wish people wouldn’t stick arbitrary lables like “future dub folk” on music like this. It ain’t new, there’s sod all dub in it, and it ain’t folk – well not as we know it, Jim.  This sort of thing has been around since the 60s, and came back in the 80s with V Reilly, and it’s not clever to try and pigeon hole it as something new, when it quite clearly isn’t. And talking of dub…..

CELT ISLAM – the new album “Baghdad” is very good indeed – the marriage of disparate cultural elements works very well indeed.

HERO AND LEANDER’s – front lady contacted me recently about some radio play and I’ve only just got round to listening to their music – and very impressive it is too. Their August EP “Collider” is well worth checking out.

THE UMBILICAL CHORDS – i’ve mentioned before that I have recently  taken delivery of a couple of copies of this duo’s demo CD – Paris based but featuring ex-pat Manc Scott Batty, they combine post-punk guitar riffing with half-spoken/half-sung poetry of a very high quality. Not easy listening in terms of the lyrical content with some fairly astute observations on the state of the human psyche and the world in general. “Sex Friend” in particular is full of vivid imagery. They will be in Manchester in March supporting Gabrielles Wish.

SIMON WALDRAM – sent me his “The Day The Signal Died” album a few weeks back. And to be fair to him I’ve only dipped into it occasionally but I sat down yesterday and gave it a good listen. Chap writes good songs and has a good voice as well. There is a nice acoustic ambient feel to the music, albeit it is a tad dark and introspective in places. He says of the album….”Signal was recorded between June 2008 and December 2010. It’s quite dark in places – and was influened by pysch-folk, slowcore, shoegaze etc. Although most of it was recorded at home on an 8-track, quite a lot of work was done on overdubs, mixing and production with Mark Elmore at the Crash Factory, Nottingham. Also Robert Scott added some keyboard arrangements to Falling Down and Another World For You – and Danny Short played some percussion on Another World as well. I think of the album as indie pop meets dark psychedelic folk to soundtrack moments of quiet desperation…or something.” Well he is not far wrong with that description, and indeed the linkage with Mr D Short of Horwich is quite relevant as there are elements of both men’s work which are comparable. Simon’s work is comparable with the more elegaic of Danny’s music and to be fair he delivers it with less of the type of “orchestral” layering that you get with Mr Short. If you like the sound of it then check it out at ……. and talking of Mr Short….

DDS – the wild and wacky world of Danny Short’s more experimental persona DDS has delivered a new EP called “Let the Year Pass By in Peace” in which he eschews formal song structures for three slices of distressed guitar sounds, laminal waves of synthesis, chittering, stuttering, muttering and fluttering. Unlike previous DDS incarnations there are actually vocals on this one, which work very well indeed. And to be fair the closing “Peace and Hope” is a rather lovely piece built around organ and electric piano sounds which then develops associated ambient element. I recommend you check this out on Bandcamp and avail yourself of his previous offerings in this area whilst you are there – the thirty minute piece “Wind Down Window” is a belter!

HANDWITHLEGS – just got round to listening to their “Electric Cave” (short) album from last year which reminds me a little bit of Suicide in places although with a modern rhythmic persona. Quite impressed with this – no doubt some numpty somewhere will describe it as a bit retro but I’m rather fond of their eclectic mix of styles and synthesis. There is enough variety on here to keep the jaded electronicaphile happy for twenty one minutes. A nice selection of sound vignettes.