Probably curse you out and unplug her phone…

Here’s something that keeps reappearing on my iPod…

Forest Swords

Forest Swords are actually one person, Mike Barnes from Cheshire making slow, atmospheric and always sad music that reminds me of the James Blake record I was writing about last month.

He’s just released Dagger Paths, (that’s a PP “just”, you understand, I think it’s been around for a couple of months on Emusic, at least) on Old English Spelling Bee (the same label that brought us that Julian Lynch record, another fine release in similar vein).

It’s a remarkable EP full of slow tempo rhythms, lots of reverb and stock in trade dub effects (always a winner…). Over this backdrop, harsher elements, such as jarring drum phrases and harsh guitar motifs, are grafted on with a disregard for context that is disconcerting. There are elements of spaghetti western and even surf guitar sounds drifting over the ether.

Over the top of all that, there are vocal samples that are distorted and twisted until they’re hard to recognise. I’m hardly an expert on US street sounds but I’m told that Aaliyah makes a few appearances. Certainly the strongest track on the record is a cover of the late RnB artist’s “If Your Girl Only Knew”, which transforms the easy sleazy appeal of the original into an entirely cheerless affair.

The whole record is full of such transformations and brims with exotic gloom. It’s compelling stuff…

There are a few downloads you can pick up from Pitchfork, amongst others, and OSB have a page on Vimeo that is worth visiting too…

Here’s one of their videos, for the first track from Dagger paths, “Miarches”:

A chill wind…

On mountain tops, in gales, I pray

Cardiff’s Shape Records are a busy little outfit – always seem to have a few gigs and events on, and having that fine Sweet Baboo record in the summer, have now released an album by the mysterious H Hawkline. You can stream the whole record from their site, here, or if you want something special, you can buy one of only 150 specially pressed vinyl LPs, with special sleeves and the like.

On top of this, Shape Records have just made available a free download of a song called “I Want To Write You A Song As Good As I Can”, which was apparently part of the I’m a Dancer sessions, but didn’t make the cut. It’s pretty good as well, all quirky, plaintive vocals and seventies brass. I like it, and you can get it in exchange for your email address here.

Here’s a clip of Steven playing at one of the Shape Functions:

A doff of the cap to you…

And every little time I treat you like a whore, I don’t feel nothing ‘cause I’ve seen it before…

I’m getting older and more cynical as I enter Blogging middle age (nearly five years old now). Used to be a time when a free CD plopping boldly on my mat would have had me performing clumsy cartwheels across the tired boards of our kitchen floor.

(Of course these days, CDs don’t plop through letterboxes at all – I suppose the plop as they arrive in your My Music folder is a purely metaphorical one…)

Sun Hotel

Anyway, occasionally, free music does present itself to me, but in these days of wall-to-wall spam I find myself getting a little distrustful when a lengthy and frankly odd comment appears on the Blog by a feller called Tyler from the band Sun Hotel.

See what you think, the comment starts:

First off, i have to tell you this blog brings back strong memories of my high school girlfriend, and for that reason i feel like we know each other well.

Not sure I really want to follow this through, thinks I, but in the end (and this was well over a month ago) I followed the link Tyler gave me and downloaded the band’s record. Well, bugger me, if it’s not actually quite a good record. I’ll let Tyler go on:

We are a Post-Gospel/Swamp Rock band from New Orleans, Louisiana and we will be releasing our new self-recorded and self-released album on September 24th on vinyl, cassette, cd, and digital formats.

I think it’s the phrase “swamp rock” which got me interested, although I confess to being unsure quite what it means. Turns out that the Sun Hotel version of swamp rock is a rather frank, sometimes clumpy Americana which I quite like. Songs like Voodoo You and Oikos trample across you with little regard for your feelings and remind me of someone like Blitzen Trapper. There are some subtle harmonies at play in many of the songs and most of the singing is shared (doubled in fact) by Tyler Scurlock and AlexHertz, which I rather like.

Sun Hotel are indeed from New Orleans itself and the record they wereplugging, Coast, was released in September. After a couple of months deliberating over it (ahem) I can certainly recommend it as a good solution to all your fuzzy country rock needs.

You can stream the whole record from their site, but you could start with this video and a couple of downloads:

Voodoo You

Loose Woman

Apologies to Tyler and his boys…

Remixes: Can be quite good. Who knew?

I’ve tended to classify the whole idea of the remix as one of those things that we don’t really need, usually put together by people with too much time on their hands, inflicting their “art” on an innocent public (cf Blogging, an indispensable part of today’s culture, produced by hard-pressed, right-thinking folk, that you’d willing buy a drink were you to meet them in your local hostelry…)

Anyway, once again one of the tenets I’ve clung fondly to for a number of years has been undermined by a fairly new remix that has been released this month. A remix of one of the highlights of the Tame Impala record, InnerSpeaker, “Lucidity” has appeared. It’s been given some sort of grooved treatment by French producer Pilooski, which is quite listenable really. Have a listen:

Now, I’m not going to pretend I have the faintest idea who Pilooski is, or even if the picture here is actually him (I kinda hope it is, but then, if you put it on your MySpace page…). I’m also not going to pretend that Mr Pilooski’s chosen penname isn’t anything other than daft, and of course the original is a real stonker, which I’ve written about before, but the remix isn’t bad at all.

In the interests of setting my world view back onto its axis, here’s a great track that just didn’t need to be remixed and re-released:

And here’s the Nike-sponsored 2010 version, released to coincide with the 2010 World Cup. OK, I suppose, but worth doing? Really?:

I feel a Jorge Ben post coming on…

Walls that spoke to me…

Anyone who knows me even vaguely will no doubt have been told by now, that for the first time in my life I am driving regularly, and to be honest I’m surprised just how much I’m enjoying it. I’m genuinely amazed.

One of the hitherto undiscovered pleasures of driving has been the whole quality time with my CD player experience. Why did no one tell me how much fun this is?

Grass Widow

The CD that has kept me company this week has been Past Times by three women from San Francisco called Grass Widow. It’s a bit of a post punk treat, all trebly guitar lines, and slightly aggressive twin vocals. It sounds a lot like the Au Pairs to these elderly ears.

It doesn’t have quite the same heart-beating-like-a-sparrow nerviness to it that the Cloud Nothings record does (maybe a small mammal…) but it’s still pretty energetic stuff, full of spirit, industry and intelligence.

The lyrics are tricky and hard to pick (not least because both vocalists sing different lines over the top of each other), and by all accounts quite private:

“We write lyrics about very personal and often dark subjects” Raven Mahon, the guitarist says, “but present the ideas in a way that disguises the content within metaphor and upbeat instrumentation”. So there you go.

There’s a couple of cracking videos shot by some feller calling himself unARTigNYC (possibly not the name his mother knows him by) which captures some of these qualities:

(If you’re wondering, a “grass widow” is apparently, an obsolete term for a woman – possibly of easy virtue – abandoned by her man.)

“Shadows”, the first song, is available as a free download from KillRockStars. Past Times is released by Wizard Mountain and is I think their second release, in that Emusic seem to have another record available. There’s also an EP around too, so a bit of investigating to be done, methinks…

Take your brain, it’s time to go…

Reg King, lead singer and songwriter for sixties icons The Action has died.

As well as having a cult following as an original Mod band of the sixties, the Action managed the transition from mod into psychedelia well and actually recorded a real classic in 1967’s Rolled Gold, one of my favourite sixties album. I’m not sure it was actually released at the time; if it was, it bombed. And that was that…

One of the thing’s that’s really sad about his death is that it happened over a month ago and I’ve only just heard. Now, either that means I’ve been living the life of a monk, shunning all contact with the outside world, or nobody much cared…

Here’s the Guardian’s obituary (a month late).

Listen to “Brain” from Rolled Gold, it’s wonderful.

Remember me…

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