Thursday, 29 January 2009

Ladies Night

I posted about Victoria Hesketh (aka Little Boots) towards the end of last month and have been spinning the few tracks I have regularly ever since. Last week my LastFM streaming also picked up a track and followed it up with multiple lass fronted artists. My attention thus focused, I started to think how many quality songs I've enjoyed recently that rely on the powerful serenity of the female vocal.

It's not entirely uncommon, especially in rockier crowds, to find the opinion that a woman singing usually detracts from the music. Whilst I've never subscribed to this, I can't say that my collection is bursting with female singers, so I'm glad to take some time to appreciate those that are there already, as well as those that are just recently introducing themselves.

Little Boots - Magical Tropical Mixtape (free download on sign up)

Jenny Lewis
- The Next Messiah

Asobi Seksu
- Familiar Light

Constantines & Feist - Islands in the Stream

Portishead - We Carry On

Coming full circle, I'm excited to say that my first giggage in the NYC area will actually be Little Boots. Coming 3,000 miles across an ocean to see an act born 1 hour's drive from my UK home? Makes perfect sense to me! Which leads me neatly into the big move this weekend, something about which I intend to post plenty this coming week as the hangover of January draws to a close and the sobering hard work of February kicks in.........exciting times!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Saul's Thought For The Day

I had intended to post this last week but perhaps it's more useful a good week into the reign of the new Prez. It came through from the Saul Williams mailing list on inauguration day, a timely devil's advocate for the occasion and a reminder of how much work there is to be done.

We have overcome.

Except those of us now in Gaza. Except those of us whom police kill. Except those of us who are suspects. Except those of us whom the church hate. Except those of us damned to taste good. Except those of us held by fate. We are meeting in the capitol. Word is, freedom will not wait.

All that once was never shall be.
All they could do won’t be done.
All we sang of is now happening.

[note to self:]
Must write
new songs
to become…

...And so it was. Through the collective imagination of the people, the force of will and human potential, and an unflinching ability to hold himself to task, Niggy Tardust was liberated. His ability to see beyond the boundaries and obstacles of 'genre', 'race', and suppression, allowed him to encompass a grace and sound that embodied the all. All that had stood against him, now stood with him. All that had claimed a lesser harmony, now craved voice and resonance. He stood with poets, painters, dancers, students, children of the night who had transformed themselves into a million bright ambassadors of morning, and proclaimed,

“We declare declaratives and deny the official. Based in the landmark of the G-spot, we have overtaken ourselves and overthrown our forefathers. Let there be light within the light and let it answer to the name of Darkness. We are forever risen from the deadly: the anti-virus and the All Stars. Granted power by forces unbeknownst to us. Made in the likeness of kindness. We offer anger to the angry and fear to the fearful. We dance at our own funerals to forsake the mourners…

…This is no time to cry! This is no time at all! Here is the moment of the overlooked and the unforeseeable. We are the elected officials of the people: poets and artists. We are the declarative statement of the inarticulate, the irreparably damaged goods of the bad meaning good. We are the government! We are the government! We are the government!”

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Golden Age?

Interesting times?

Mr Obama starts his new job today, marking the end of another's reign that can, at best, be described as 'awkward'. The Bush/Blair years are now thankfully behind us and, cautiously, a new era seems to be emerging. As my (yet to exist) kids will inhabit this one, and I'm now living within it, I've a bit more invested in this particular chapter of US history. The vast majority seem to be greeting the change with a hopeful optimism, despite the difficult times in which we are living. The rest are calling the lad a Muslim liberal terrorist on the basis of his name and should probably be gathered together as the new tenants of Guatanamo.

Having lived through the Blairsteria of Britain in May 1997, I can offer a note of caution in that the reality is often far removed from the anticipation. Now, though, I really do feel a genuine foundation for this temporary fervour. A more symbolic and critical change of custodian has occurred in this case and if even half of the campaign promises are half met, we'll be on the right track. Still, the nagging sense of potential disappointment remains and it's possibly this that makes the whole situation so electric.

May you live in interesting times? Wherever it goes, this ride will certainly explore that particular duality.

Golden Age - TV on the Radio

The Government
- Saul Williams

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Happy New Releases!

Having started all this a year or so ago now, it's been an interesting method of getting some musical thoughts down in a tangible format. 2008 was down and up in terms of how much time/access I could dedicate round this way, but hopefully 2009 will mirror my employed life and focus firmly on the inner music geek. And, as sure as 'Best Of.....' lists show up to round out a year, upcoming releases are the focus of any socially inadequate disc obsessive as January jolts us out of our holiday stupors.

So, to ensure I look foolish at the end of this year for all the amazing releases of which I was ignorant at its beginning, here are some choice dates/efforts that are whetting my appetite for the year ahead........US release dates as that's where I'll be purchasing now:

20/1 - Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Somewhat unpredictable group of collaborators whose performance at ATP last May finally made me pay attention. This one has potential to be a belter.

27/1 - dalek - Gutter Tactics
Not a regular player but what I've heard of the dark hip-hop on earlier releases is good. Perhaps the release that gets me fully onboard the train with a return ticket.

27/1 - Sepultura - A-Lex
Time to check in with the Seps again. Dante XII was a return to form and also a fine concept record, so they have something to live up to. It's a constant battle to prove they're still relevant, despite Max having left over a decade ago, but at least they're playing from the heart rather than rehashing former glories.

3/2 - Zombi - Spirit Animal
One of the least characteristic artists in the Relapse stable, this has the potential to be one of the year's powerful instrumental records. A 5ive-esque surprise for 09?

17/2 - Asobi Seksu - Hush
Oooooooohhhhh, now then. Here's an exciting realisation. I knew something new was on the horizon but this is deliciously close. If it comes anywhere close to the simultaneously noisy/fragile beauty of 'Citrus' then we'll be in for a treat.

17/2 - Thursday - Common Existence
'War All The Time' captured a moment for me, something the last Thursday disc failed to do and so passing me by. This is more to remind me to check out if they still have 'it'.

24/2 - Lamb of God - Wrath
One of the many big hitting metal releases emerging in the first quarter. They need to avoid getting stuck in a rut but should more than have the chops to do so by now.

10/3 - Chris Cornell - Scream
Need to catch me up with this gentleman this year, with this release providing a timely motivation. More recent material has felt a little restrained and tepid, with the power of his vocal not coming through, but there's always hope....I hope. We shall see.

10/3 - This Will Destroy You & Lymbyc System - Field Studies
Not sure precisely what this will entail, but it sounds juicy.

24/3 Mastodon - Crack the Skye
Without a Tool album on the horizon and leaving plenty of time to digest it through the year, this one could well be a shoe in for best of the year. It's almost inconceivable that these boys could make a disappointing record..........there's the set up!

That has actually just rammed home to me how great things are looking already (eclectic too, given that there will be the obvious indie darlings du jour coming from left field to add in a few exciting albums). There weren't this many at this point last year, so hopefully most of those listed, plus possible releases from The National, Clutch, Doves and maybe even Glassjaw (please........pllleeeease??) and we're on our way to a scorcher.

So, suitably enthused and iPods at the ready, onwards we march into the closing year of the noughties.