Category: Music chat

Bear Essentials

Sweet Jesus, Grizzly Bear are back after a 5 year hiatus. I’m such a huge fan. I return to their music time and time again. It’s a whole world away from your average US college rock, Pitchfork-loved guitar band – though Pitchfork probably do love them. I find their music endlessly fascinating, full of interesting layers and their songs tend to open up the more you listen to them. That makes them sound like a tough listen, which they’re not at all. But they do have intimacy to their songwriting despite having quite a ‘big’ sound.

This first single seems to have picked up where the last album left off. I wasn’t sure to start with, and then I liked it; and now, on the 20th listen, I completely love it.

Album’s coming in August and they’re playing Manchester on October 6th. I’ve just bought tickets. Anyone fancy joining me?

Live: St Paul and the Broken Bones at Leeds Irish Centre, 31 January 2017

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For my November album of the month review it was a toss-up between Jagwar Ma’s Every Now and Then and the second album from Birmingham, Alabama’s eight piece soul outfit, St Paul and the Broken Bones.  The reason this lot were even on my radar was due to an outstanding Worthy Farm Other Stage afternoon slot last June which was a performance of the highest quality and they were so sock-knocking-off brilliant that I simply had to catch them again if they played near me.  When tickets went on sale a few months ago I jumped at the chance, doubly so as they were booked for the excellent Brudenell Social Club in Leeds.  That soon sold out and so the gig was moved to the Leeds Irish Centre, a working men’s club straight out of Life On Mars, complete with the decor – it’s exactly what you’d imagine it to be and I’d been there once before.  One of Damon Albarn’s many side projects played, The Good, The Bad and The Queen rocked up there in January 2007 complete with with The Clash’s Paul Simenon armed with his machine gun guitar.

Back again then, and down the front a couple of nights back.  Where this band have it above so many I’ve seen in recent times is the charismatic Paul Janeway, who has the moves, the poses and the energy but above all, possesses The. Voice.  Man, this guy has pipes.  The performance is pure James Brown theatrics (he turns up in a leopard print suit and star-spangled diamond shoes) and he’s there to take us with him on his tour of pleadings to the woman who done him wrong, the heartfelt apologies for fucking things up… and a trip through the audience where he climbs the walls using the passion of the blues, railing against his broken bones and pocket change.  This was an hour and half which went by in a fraction of the time, driven by horns and a lead singer of boundless energy and love for his craft and audience and it was time very much well spent.

A mention as well has to go to a fine selection of supporting band.  Rarely do you seem to get a decent warm up (we’ve all seen bewildering choices over the years I’m sure) but the splendidly named The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer were really something else. Check this out – Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To.  This is awesome.  A singer with a harmonica and soundbox, guitarist playing drums with his feet and a gorgeous diva thrown in to boot.  Simply joyous.

2016 and its music

If February the 3rd, 1959 was the day that music died when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson all died in a plane crash, then surely 2016 will be remembered as the year that music died. From David Bowie dying in the early days of January to the passing of George Michael on Christmas day, you’d be hard pressed to find a music fan of any genre or era in the last 50 years that didn’t loose one of their heroes. Some of us were lucky enough to be treated to one final swan song with he likes of Bowie and Tribe Called Quest (Phife Dawg) releasing arguably some of their best work ahead of their departure, whilst all of the lost artists left us with music that will stay with us for our lifetimes.

2016 for me as a music fan was a strong year with a mixture of new artists and familiar faces releasing some very strong albums, especially within Hip Hop and Soul. I did how ever find that over all the UK seemed to take the foot off the gas after very strong years in 2013, 2014 and 2015. 2016 also saw coming out parties for many artists that were on the cusp of great things with the likes of Chance the Rapper, Anderson Paak and Solandge making strong statements of intent.

2017 is already looking to be a fantastic year for music. But ahead of us turning to the next chapter, please find my top tens of the year.

Albums

Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You For Your Service

Michael Kiwanuka – Love and Hate

NxWorries – Yes Lawd

Baio – The Names

She Drew The Gun – Memoirs Of The Future

Frank Ocean – Blonde

Lapsley – Long Way Home

Anderson Paak- Malibu

Common – Black America Again

Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered

Singles

Jules Et Spatz – Rotwii Lied

De La Soul – Exodus

Moderate – Running (AME Remix)

Lee Burridge & Lost Desert – Lingala

Christine and the Queens – Titled

Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis – White Privilege II

Natia Rose – Sqwad

Matronomy – Old Skool

DJ Shadow feat Run The Jewels – Nobody Speak

David Bowie – Lazarus 

  • I decided to leave any tracks that were in my top ten albums off. Essentially, listen to those full albums.

Happy New Year brothers and I look forward to 2017!

Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”

Well where the hell did this come from? Childish Gambino AKA Donald Glover drops his 3rd album under the CG monkier out of nowhere, and it is a BEAST. Always been slightly underwhelmed by his previous output, which felt to more like hip hop you could admire more than love. It was too clever and tricksy and I don know, I didn’t feel it.

This is a totally different beast. This isn’t hip hop at all – it’s a funk or soul album, steeped in Sly Stone, Prince and Funkadelic, and it’s as properly far out at times as either George Clinton or Sly. It’s a bold step to the left, and he pulls it off with incredible confidence. I’m only my 2nd listen, but I am LOVING it…

Nadia Rose – SQWOD

I love everything single about this more than I can say. So perfectly formed. What a video. So much colour, so much life. I wonder if a UK rapper like this might blow up globally soon. Feels so much fresher and less bloated than most US counterparts (Kendrick et al notwithstanding). Dunno. Anyway, enjoy…