Cathedral Juice, Slug Dempsey and other matters of note

Ten years since Mr Peel left us and at the same time a raft of albums have been released that I have no doubt he would be featuring were he still broadcasting.

And what better place to start…….

It should be of no surprise to anyone who is an avid collector of the work of The Fall that the latest release, gnomically titled “Live Uurop VIII-XII places in sun & winter, son”, is a mixed bag of live recordings of varying quality. It is not the first example of a release, from the most prolific of groups, which tests the fans patience with their massive output. Pieced together from various dates the material stretches way back, in terms of genesis, to 1982/3 with a reading of “Wings” complete with, for reasons which are inexplicable, some church bells ringing at the beginning, through to more recent stuff including the, as yet unreleased, “Auto (2014) Chip Replace”. There have of course, along with the addition of extra percussionist, Daren Garrett (ex Nightingales etc), been a host of new songs aired publicly since this lot was recorded so one can expect a new Fall album at some point. Having caught them recently at the Lower Kersal Social Club I get a sense that some of the new material is an improvement on recent releases, which is consistent with the sine curve of quality that goes alongside studio albums. Having recently re-read Brian Edge’s Paintwork book, and Steve Hanley’s book “The Big Midweek” it becomes increasingly clear that the group are an obsession which both gives joy and confounds in equal measure. Is it any good? Probably not, but it gets filed on the shelves with the other 100 or so CDs and will be a reference point for  work on a comprehensive Fall gigography which is currently underway and will hopefully be completed by next Spring, i’m up to 1981 and it is proving exceedingly slow progress.

THE FALL Live

Thurston Moore’s new album “The Best Day” is good in that it refers back in terms of overall sound and to some degree structure to the excellent “Murray Street” by Sonic Youth.  He has gathered a newish band around him, Steve Shelley returns on drums, and Moore seems somewhat revitalised by his new band members. On balance I think I prefer last years “Chelsea Light Moving” wherein Moore adopted a more louche Lou Reed-ish demeanour and a slighly more raw sound. However when you get down to it there is not a great deal he can do in terms of surprises, it’s all very much mapped out from probably “Sister” onwards, with the exception of his more “free jazz” experiments with the likes of Nels Cline and Walter Prati. Better I think to try and grab a copy of his work with John Moloney in Europe in 2012  (Fundamental Sunshine) which starts to explore some other avenues is a little less rock specific. On a similar line of thought I’ve been listening back to some early Glenn Branca recently, to which Moore and Lee Ranaldo were key collaborators and that sounds far more interesting, at least people were taking risks back then, aah, the folly of youth.

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I wonder what Mr Peel would have made of Staggs? I hope he would appreciated their quirky charm and obtuse approach. Their latest single “When Eartha Kitt Met Pete Tong” is their best yet mixing a left field approach to electronica with Michael T.Scott’s scabrous vocalese. The A side is the marvellous Earth Kitt which mashes up references to Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and Jagger & Richard whilst, subliminally at least, referencing the long lost Fall track “Tempo House”, The other A-side “It All Went Pete Tong” is a delightful chill wave piece with a John Barry elements which seems to cover a wide range of subjects including a failed love affair between a vegetarian and a butcher. Ridley and Scott are able to create something new and vital  with their work and I recommend them strongly to you. Their work to date can be accessed via Bandcamp and the new single will be available from German Shepherd Records as a digital download from 31st October.

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The new Half Man Half Biscuit album “Urge for Offal” is great in a familiar way. We have got used, by now, to certain Blackwell formulas in albums and there are one or two of the characteristic performances therein, “The Unfortunate Gwatkin” being a classic “Nigel narrative” that then bursts into a song, this time with the memorable and utterly catchy line “Cresta, what the fuck were we drinking?”. There’s a punkier pop feel than of late with faster tempos and slightly harsher guitar sound on a number of songs, but there are the usual forays into mutant folk/country with a dollop of Wirralese, No stone is left unturned as Nigel mercilessly lampoons any number of current trends and tropes – Midge Ure gets a bit of a battering .  His ability to distill the state of the nation in a few pithy lines is legendary and he has lost none of his biting wit and utter daftness at times – I mean who else could rhyme beige with Standard Liege and mention Gerry Gow in the same song?  And here’s a thing, there’s a point in “Baguette Dilemma for the Booker Prize Guy” where Mr Blackwell sounds uncannily like Peter Hammill, a person he has, in the past, extracted from the micturant from with some venom. I often feel that the words are generally more important than the music with HMHB albums – when they get it spot on they can marry a great tunes with great words (i’m thinking “Gubba Lookalikes” for example) and there are a couple of gems on here but mostly it’s about standard “Merseybeat” chord sequences being used to deliver Blackwell’s words. There are a couple of interesting bits including the jaunty instrumental “Theme For Something Or Other”.  Having said all that it is by far the best release for October and the album I am likely to play more than once over the coming weeks.  Always the sign of a good album I feel is not particularly warming to it on the first listening but repeated plays leads to more appreciation of the detail.

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Aural Delights Radio Show – 14th December 2011 – Albums of the Year Part #2

Part the second of a rapid scurry through the best releases of the year as nominated by some Salford City Radio DJs and a select band of followers of The Fall

Deerhoof – Secret Mobilization – vs Evil (January) – the slow drip release technique was either a clever marketing ploy or the sign of a band that knows it’s audience. In any event their best yet in that it retains the quirky nature of the bands work to date whilst adopting a more accessible approach. The selected track merges a funk approach with astringent rock in a sort of 1970s aesthetic.

Gnod – Visions of Load – Chaudelande Volume One (November) – the second album this year from our local space rock monsters. They started their last European tour by spending a couple of days in the Studio Chaudelande, a small house in the Normandy countryside. The sessions will be as a two volumes LP series on Tamed Records, of which this is the first. I sense a slight change in direction here but the core Gnod manifesto still persists. Unfortunately due to the need to fit a lot into the show only half of this track could be played.

Dum Dum Girls – Bedroom Eyes – Only In Dreams (September) Does the Raveonettes production wreck the original lo-fi wonderment of the Dum Dum Girls?  Well you can hear Dee Dee’s voice a lot more clearly and the production is clearly more “professional” as it were. Adding a proper band for this album tends to shift the emphasis away from her as musician and develop her more as vocalist/lyricist. The original charm of the band may have been lost but this is a fine album, and the selected tracks is a fine piece of American pop.

Girls – Alex – Father, Son, Holy Ghost (September) – some grumpiness about this in the reviews – too polished and not as adventurous was one comment. Disagree completely – this is original brain flipping stuff – almost subversive in it’s adoption of pop mores into the area of psych and prog. Owens and White write well and put some effort and thought into the music.

Feist – Caught A Long Wind – Metals (October) I’m not completely sold on this nu-folk stuff (especially the UK end of things) but Leslie Feist is able to take the core elements of this genre and develop it into something a little more compelling. There is a gentle feel to this album which provides a nice counterpoint to a lot of the stuff I listen to. There are times where is gets a tad chocolate box cover in parts but generally more agreeable.

Thurston Moore – Illuminine – Demolished Thoughts (May) In which Thurston works with Beck to go in a Nick Drake direction – well to my ears anyway in the string arrangements if nothing else. Some said it was similar to Murray Street, which as far as I am concerned is damn fine, as that’s one of Sonic Youth’s best albums. With the dissolution of his marrage to Kim, and the future of the Youth uncertain one wonders where he will go next.

Tom Waits – Get Lost – Bad As Me (October) a common theme of the albums in this exercise is artists coming back to form after a long lay off – this time seven years. Tom is back to his gnarly, bluesy, jazzy best on this album.  An enjoyable set of songs proving he still has it in him to deliver cutting edge music.

The Jar Family – Debt – The Jar Family (November) a collective of five singer-songwriters from Hartlepool – this is their debut and rather impressive it is too. There is a variety of excellent writing and styles on this album. I would guess world domination is not far away for these as they certainly have the  tunes.

Efrim Manuel Menuck – I am no longer a motherless child – Plays High Gospel (May) debut album from the chap behind Godspeed!You Black Emperor and A Silver Mount Zion. Some serious guitar distress on this album with walls of heavily processed sound allied to Efrim’s trademark keening vocalisations (my good lady leaves the home when I play ASMZ tracks she thinks he is in pain). Some nods back to early Eno material with Frippisms appearing in places.

Mike Patton – Calculus of Finite Differences – The Solitude of Prime Numbers (November) Patton’s third film soundtrack to date and his most accessible. Simply put its sounds nothing like he has done before, in his many incarnations in the business.  If you like his more extreme work be in for a shock, this is formally constructed, ambient in parts, and definitely highly listenable.

Perplexa – Tribal – Gone Beyond (January) – Detroit’s space-rockers moving into entirely new territory with a bold world music sound.  There are links to Spaceman 3 here with Caruthers on bass and some stunning cello work from Phil Myers. Marvellous!

Peaking Lights – Hey Sparrow – 936 (February) fascinating stuff – drifting, dub, space-rock psyche from Wisconsin. Drum machine, basic keyboards,  guitar, and   bass grooves make for gorgeous low-fi pop. Vashtu Bunyan guests on this selection.

This City of Takers – This City is a Pipe Bomb – The Felt (November)  Indie-Rock band from St. Louis playing Post-Punk music not dissimilar to Sonic Youth, Cursive, and Spoon.  Self released album on Bandcamp which is free also…..mightily impressive sound.

Psychic Ills – Midnight Moon – Hazed Dream (October) and to close a beautiful piece of dreamy psychedelia…….

To listen to the show click on the link

Aural Delights Overspill # 2

It’s that time again where there has been so much new stuff in that I need to post a mix on Mixcloud which features the things I just have not had time to play on the radio…….just  focusing on  new releases in 2011 herein……

1. Maybeshewill –  Accolades – I was here for a moment and then I was gone

2. Thurston Moore – Circulation – Demolished Thoughts

3. Tropic of Cancer – Dive (Wheel of the Law) – The Sorrow of Two Blooms

4. Wet Hair – Fame Hate – In Vogue Spirit

5. Hiss Golden Messenger – Isobel – From Country Hai East Cotton

6. My Morning Jacket – Victory Dance – Circuital

7. Alexander Tucker – You Are Many – Furrowed Brow

8. Cinematique – Oceanic Has Drowned – Life In An Infinite Loop

9 – Dean Wareham – I can’t wait – Anesthesia

10. The Find – Letterbomb – The Find EP

11. The Cassettes – I’ve Been Gone – I’ve Been Gone Far Too Long

12. Rival Schools – Racing to Red Light – Pedals

13. Dutch Uncles – Cadenza – Cadenza

14. Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter – Hushed By Devotion – Marble Son

15. O’Death – Look at the Sun – Outside

16. Psychedelic Horseshit – Revolution Waves – Laced

17. Several Girls Galore – Winter’s Hands – The Noise We Make

18. Youth Lagoon – Montana – The Year of Hibernation

19. The Head and the Heart – Honey Come Home – The Head and the Heart

20. The Cosmic Dead – Spice Melange Spectrum – Cosmik Tape 1

To listen click the link below