Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Blow That Horn

Okay so recently a friend of mine did a video with a soundtrack by Parov Stelar, called Charleston Butterfly. I looked into it further and found it was a title track to an EP, and I now have it coming on vinyl. Very excited! It seems to be pretty niche but there's one online record store that stocks Parov Stelar's albums, Daily Records. I've also got his 2009 album Coco on .mp3 and it's a long lovely jazzy album with beautiful vocals he got from a number of different sources. While the Charleston Butterfly EP is from 2006 the retro vibe is noticeably in right now, with a number of musicians incorporating it into their sound or capitalising on the vintage-fan subculture.
At a gig DJ Otloader played a segment from this song - I think (hope) he was playing it ironically - and a friend pointed out to me something I hadn't realised - that Doop curtailed the development and integration of jazz, charleston and swing into pop and dance by some 20 years by the sheer uncoolness generated by that song becoming a one-hit wonder. But now it seems most people (except the ones who go to The Vestry) have forgotten Doop and saxophones and charleston swing is here.
On the subject of saxophones, I've been watching through the HBO series Tremé, which features a huge amount of New Orleans jazz. If you enjoy the music or are at all curious as to what's happened there since the Hurricane Katrina story fell out of the headlines, that is definitely a series to watch. I'm not even halfway through yet but so far the writing, cinematography and performances have been surprisingly good and the story is well plotted. Worth taking a look at, definitely.
Have fun listening to these, and check out Parov Stelar's most recent EP, The Phantom, out in a variety of formats.

Parov Stelar - Charleston Butterfly (feat Gabriella Hänninen) (From the Charleston Butterfly EP)
Parov Stelar - Dandy (feat. Yola B) (From Coco)

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

In the quest for employment Or: What is it with these nautical band names?

I seem to be a summer blogger. In my defense I just finished my final year at university and it was a nasty, complicated, anxious, infuriating, ecstatic, exhausting, dizzying time (that sounds mainly negative but believe me there were some wild good times as well). I had a couple pleasant surprises once I moved back into the family homestead and started looking for work. The first was that I found out a video I was in last summer with the Camden-based band Dead Sea Navigators had gone live, which was lovely. The song is called The Other Side and is a a dark, moody track in complete contrast to the song I will talk about below. It was produced by the new indie film company called Image Of Independence, and they did a great job. My first gig on 16mm! Awesome! Anyway here's the video:

Dead Sea Navigators - The Other Side video

Dead Sea Navigators has released their first EP and started doing gigs in Europe, which I'm happy about because it means maybe all the blood, sweat and gin that went into making the video paid off for them.

The second surprise came not long after when Tom Milsom called me up and asked me to step in and make a music video with him and a few other people. It was kinda confusing and last-minute but I was happy to help out, even knowing next to nothing about what this was going to entail. But once I got to London and met the other people things got a little more interesting. They didn't really explain that much about the long-term aims of this project and so I gradually learned more about it over just the last couple days, but basically what it was intended to be is a promotional video for their new musical band collective thing ('band' seems a little restrictive for the model they're attempting, as explain in this video) which is called Sons Of Admirals and is comprised of the YouTubers and musicians Tom Milsom, Alex Day, Eddplant and Charlie McDonnell.

Umm yeah so I got to romp around London's East End with some of the most famous contemporary people you've probably never heard of and make a music video about how dreadful girls are (bros before hos as many commenters on YouTube noted) and getting hit on by an awful lot of randomers including a stoned-looking Jamaican guy riding pillion on his friend's bicycle who invited me back to his place (I didn't go). The song is a cheerful and innovative cover of a Cat Stevens song called Here Comes My Baby. In any case - video:

Sons Of Admirals - Here Comes My Baby video (Cat Stevens cover)

The video was to promote both Sons Of Admirals and their version of the song which was released as a single on iTunes a couple days ago. Last time I checked it was at No. 48 in the iTunes Singles Chart which was pretty surprising. I really would recommend you go check it out and , if you like it, download it for the standard 79p from iTunes.
The other side of Sons Of Admirals, as you would have seen if you had clicked on this video is that it's a flexible way for each of these solo artists to get their music out to a wider audience, which can only be good, since it's delightful. Now, I doubt doing this video will get me employed any time soon and so my search for work continues, but that really wasn't the point of doing it for me. I got to meet and know some really lovely people, explored a bit, learned a bit and got to be involved in the start of what could be something rather excellent.

If you are at all interested in looking into these guys further they all have Twitters, websites, YouTubes and facebook fan pages that you can find rather easily either through the links in this blog. To find out more about SOA it's worth following the band collective thing Twitter and keeping an eye on the various band members' YouTube channels, since this is still their primary way of reaching out to their fans. The Guardian also wrote an article about them and they got a brief bit of radio play on BBC Radio 2 yesterday after calling on their fans to request the song be played. Other than that all I can say is go check them out, follow, subscribe, comment, like, buy the song and do all those things that make these boys happier and more determined to succeed and make a living from the things they love doing. As for me, back to looking for work and maybe one day I'll be able to do what I love for a living as well.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Mixes (again)

Um for some reason I can't quite fathom the Mix Megapost I wrote a while ago disappeared about a week after it was published. I really can't be bothered to write the reviews for all of them again (it took most of a day to set that particular post up and I'm pretty annoyed that it's gone), but I'm going to repost the links. Suffice to say that while they're a pretty odd range of mixes, I really enjoy all of them.

Chase And Status - Essential Mix Live @ BBC Radio1 09/08/2008
Go here for track listing.

Erol Alkan - Erol Alkan Live At Global Gathering, July 2007
Go here for track listing.

Björk - @ The Breezeblock 31/03/1998

Surkin - Mini Mix April 25

Calvertron - April Mix

DJ Todos - Kilchurn Session III
Go here for track listing and more excellent mixes by DJ Todos.

Justice - Fabric Rejected Mix
Go here for track listing. Also look around, it's a good website.

Alex XXXChange - Shilo Presents: We Make It Good Mix Series Vol. 4
Track listing's there as well, and take a look around the site, it's a favourite of mine.

Hervé - Ghetto Bass Minimix


Erol Alkan - A Bugged In Mix
Track listing's in here.

Squatter - Toast Is Awesome Mix
Track listing's there too.

Calvertron - Christmas Mix

Right, so hopefully this won't go astray. If something's here and it shouldn't be, email me at and I'll happily remove it.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Radio On!

It's odd that I blogged about Squatter for the first time last week, because I've just received a head's up that he's got a set on a show on Leith FM on 26th June (Friday) between 11pm-1am. Here's the bit of publicity I got:

Kicking off this week's show is Mike McGarrity from Edinburgh's Pins and Needles club night. Up at midnight it's the main man, Squatter, with a dark breaks mix.

Squatter started out producing as a hobby, zoning out for hours at a time tinkering with early sequencing software. After several years of occasional dabbling he had a bit of a revelation during the Big Chill festival, and decided it was about time he learnt how to do it properly, so he chucked his day job and moved house, and within a few weeks was sitting in lectures on music technology.

He emerged a few years later, having developed his own distinctively dark sound along the way, producing anything from glitchy breaks through to moody ambience. He recently completed his Advent Remix Challenge to raise money for charity, where he created 26 remixes from scratch in 25 days. Since then he has been producing as himself and in several collaborations, creating sound for contemporary dance performances and a number of new remixes and original tracks, at the same time as training to join the circus.

His next release is out 29th June on Control Breaks - 'Married to a Stapler' / 'Roll It Up feat. MC Regimental' (plus Section Remix) - a brooding, automated assault of an EP which will hopefully reearn him IDJ Magazine's recognition for 'oddest track title of the month'

Squatter's Advent Remix Challenge for Charity! Please support.
Squatter on MySpace.

Breaks, beats and experimental noise: Squatter's website.
Composition collective for dance and picture: TheSolarSonic on Myspace

"Squatter maintains the breaks but increases the sick factor"
- IDJ Magazine

If that sounds appetising head over to Leith FM on the pertinent night, or if you live in the Edinburgh area it's 98.8FM.

On a completely unrelated note, here's some electro and dubstep and stuff:

Voglio Solo Limonare - Crookers feat. La Pisa and Mr. Cocky
(I picked this up at some point last year and apparently it's all over Spain at the moment. If you want explicit Italian phrases this is probably a good place to start).
Nuke 'Em - DatsiK
("Yippi-kai-yay motherfuckers". Griiiimy dubstep.)
The Geeks Were Right (Does It Offend You, Yeah?) - The Faint
(Really fun electro remix, kind of like a rather cooler, much less annoying and probably more realistic version of Year 3000 ;) )
Licky (Hervé Goes Low Remix) - Erol Alkan & Princess Superstar
(Erol Alkan + Princess Superstar + Hervé = Filthy electro. Old one but a good one, imo.)
Stuck In The System - Joker
(Surprisingly epic. String section features heavily for a dubstep track.)
London Town (Doorly's Cockney Wideboy Remix) - Man Like Me
(Quite sick. Lots of sound getting layered in progressively.)

Saturday, 20 June 2009


I know this isn't a tune but this is the best little tool I've found online in quite some time. It's kind of like a virtual Tenori-On though obviously not quite as sophisticated, but still awesome. Have a play!


And for no particular reason, here's a strange version of Kids by MGMT

MGMT - Kids (Burntpiano Robo Remix)

Saturday, 21 February 2009

A Good Old-Fasioned War

Tom Milsom aka hexachordal aka Tommy Firefly is attempting an April Fool's joke on the UK by trying to get his track, The Prettiest Star to number 1 on 1st April. It will be available on iTunes from that day and hopefully should get quite a few downloads.
The song has been debuted on YouTube:
Tommy Firefly - The Prettiest Star
Go check it out and blog/vlog/tweet/rate/favourite and above all buy the track :)
If you like this track or Tom's other YouTube videos (worth a watch), his debut album Awkward Ballads For The Easily-Pleased is currently available on iTunes or from his website, and he is in the middle of working on his second album!
Gryffling - over and out.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Arbitrarily Decided List

As the title suggests, I made a list based solely on how many tracks by that artist I have on my Macbook. I kept it pretty simple - if their name is in the Artist field, or if they did the remix, they're in. Anything else I'll explain on the way.
10) Björk (36 tracks)
I have blogged about her before so I won't say too much more. I've loved her music since a friend gave me her Debut album, and my collection has grown erratically from there. I used to have more of her music, but I lost it in The Great MacBook Breakdown of '08 :(
9) The Dresden Dolls (39 tracks)
Again, I've blogged about these guys before. If I'd added Who Killed Amanda Palmer, the lead singer's solo album (produced by Ben Folds) they would have placed higher in this list. But I didn't.
8) Tom Milsom (39 tracks)
Tom places higher than the Dresden Dolls because I listen to his music more ( has a frightening 1223 scrobbles at time of writing). His first album, Awkward Ballads For The Easily-Pleased is a delightful collection of ballads and antifolk music, and his website has many of his unreleased antifolk and electronic tracks available for free download. A second album is also on the distant horizon, and I'm very curious to see what it involves, because with Tom you really can't quite tell. :)
7) Justice (42 tracks)
Credited as the guys who single-handedly revived the electro scene, Justice's most interesting recent activity has been in the form of, oddly, the Dior Homme 2009 Summer collection music they made, re-released as Planisphére Parts 1, 2, 3 and Final. Stereogum called it "dark, crunchy, ominous, at times triumphant" and it is all of these things, so altogether not what one would expect from catwalk-music :) They have also recently released A Cross The Universe CD/DVD, which is available through their MySpace and through iTunes.
6) Belle & Sebastian (42 tracks)
Somewhere along the line I collected a lot of Belle & Sebastian. I was first introduced to them through the soundtrack to the film Juno which featured Piazza, New York Catcher (from Dear Catastrophe Waitress) and Expectations (from Tigermilk), still two of my favourite songs by them. So kudos and thanks to the film that brought antifolk and McSweeney's into the mainstream and Belle & Sebastian to me. Their most recent release is The BBC Sessions, available through their website.
5) Johannes Kerkorrel (46 tracks)
Blogged about him before too. Kerkorrel definitely peaked with Eet Kreef! so while the double-disc Best Of album pêrelsvoordieswyne (trans. pearlsbeforetheswine) has some truly mediocre tracks on it, it also has some very lovely ones as well. While not entirely devoid of political satire (Wat 'n Vriend Het Ons In PW, for example), his music also turns to other things in this album.
4) Cloud Cult (48 tracks)
If asked, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you of any artist I definitely like better than Cloud Cult. The music has a strange charm to it I find very hard to pin down to any particular element. After all, the lead singer's vocal talents aren't the greatest and the band as a whole has only received underground regard and success. It might have to do with the integrity of the albums, particularly Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus, but also The Meaning Of 8 and their most recent album Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes). I can't decide, so all I can do is ask you to decide for yourself.
3) Rilo Kiley (51 tracks)
I'd be better pleased with this very good band if their last album wasn't so very bad. Whatever musical magic this band conjured through four albums was very catastrophically undone in Under The Blacklight, which has few redeeming features. Only slightly better is the lead singer Jenny Lewis' latest solo album Acid Tongue, though her first solo outing Rabbit Fur Coat (what little I've heard from it) has better content. However I can find little to criticise about their earlier albums, so if you like if you like folky pop-rock I would highly recommend them.
2) Regina Spektor (59 tracks)
What's not to like about Regina Spektor? A singer whose appeal is quirky but universal because of the sheer diversity of her music which, while generally referred to as antifolk, can swing from balladic to jazz to country to blues and even punk or rap. Her lyrics and complex and deep or fun and bemusing and have garnered her much attention - her song Fidelity was used in the trailer for the romantic comedy 27 Dresses and she was asked to write a song for the most recent Narnia film, Prince Caspian, the end-product being The Call. Her music has also been used in several episodes in TV shows. Also: where else can you find an artist who writes an entire song about a pickle or peddling butterflies?
1) The Decemberists (67 tracks)
And finally, The Decemberists, the band who dominate my music library. Late 2007 was a good time for music for me, because I got hold of Björk's Debut, Cloud Cult's Advice and The Meaning Of Eight and The Decemberists' The Crane Wife at the same time, as well as being introduced to Tom Milsom, Rilo Kiley, The Arcade Fire, Deerhoof, and electro music in general. The Crane Wife is still one of my favourite albums of all time and I adore The Decemberists' brand of intellectual ballad-driven indie-rock. In their early days often compared to Neutral Milk Hotel, The Decemberists specialise in an almost steampunk air to their tales told through music, evoking something of William Blake's Songs Of Innocence and Experience in their subject matter and time period. They are at turns whimsical, epic, political, gentle and baroque, and their influences range from traditional Eastern stories to historical events to little picaresques of roguish figures.

Rave over. Here's the music:

Björk - There's More To Life Than This (From Debut)
The Dresden Dolls - Mandy Goes To Med School (From Yes Virginia...)
Tom Milsom - Watching The Paint Dry (From Awkward Ballads For The Easily-Pleased)
Justice - Planisphére (Final) (From Planisphére)
Belle & Sebastian - Expectations (From Tigermilk)
Johannes Kerkorrel - Hoe Ek Voel (From pêrelsvoordieswyne)
Cloud Cult - Transistor Radio (From Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus)
Rilo Kiley - Portions For Foxes (From More Adventurous)
Regina Spektor - Apres Moi (From Begin To Hope)
The Decemberists - My Mother Was A Chinese Trapeze Artist (From 5 Songs EP)