Sup? So Pond are a three-piece from Australia who share two members from a little band called Tame Impala (anyone? Innerspeaker?). Pond continue the blueprint of Tame Impala, crafting psychedelic nuggets that sound both in thrall with the greats of the past, but also achingly fresh. So why bother with Pond if we already have Tame Impala I hear you ask? Well, although the music remains somewhat similar, the aesthetic of the music makes a clear separation between the two. This album is like if Tame Impala kicked back, opened some beers and just jammed the shit out of life for an hour not really caring where the song goes or if the tape runs over, which is exactly what Pond have done. The story goes that they pitched up in a barn in Australia in 2010 and recorded this, just them, a bunch of mics, and a desk, and it shows. Tapes begin while the band get ready to launch into a track, you hear the counts in and you hear the immediate reaction after, its all “authentic” and not in that new sense of the word “authentic” that is actually counter-productive to the word itself.
The sound still revolves around sounding eerily like John Lennon singing for some psych outfit, Dig Brother being right on the money for that. The organic nature of the album is what makes it sound so refreshing, you know these guys are just chilling with each other then picking up some instruments and jamming, and that is endearing. The tracks showcase the pop sensibilities that Tame Impala possess but veer off into Krautrock-esque freakouts (Fantastic Explosions Of Time),long lost Bowie songs (You Broke My Cool) that in the opening two lines rhyme “man” with “man”…told you it was Bowie, and stone called shredding (Eye Pattern Blindness). In an era where a whole album can be created without even having an instrument in the same room, this album sounds refreshing for just going back to the old-school, and that is something that should be celebrated. I haven’t stopped listening and smiling since I got it. It’s…fun.
OK, so last Tuesday Christopher Reimer from the band Women and a whole host of other bands (see post below) died in his sleep. Usually when musicians die, the reaction ranges from over-exaggerated eulogising to tasteless humour, and I have been a part of both those camps myself. However, when someone you truly admired and respected dies you get that feeling of genuine remorse and sadness for a dude you never even met, you just listened to his music and yet the feeling is still there, thats how much of an affect Women’s music and Chris’ other work had on me. Usually we hit you up with all manner of free downloads and underground links, this time I’m posting up only opportunities for paid purchase of material. Paradoxically, the only time a guy catches a break from his intellectual property rights being raped and pillaged is when he is no longer around to benefit from it. If you can, seriously buy Public Strain, it was one of the best albums of the last two years and remains one of the best records I have ever heard.
Now this is something interesting. Bullion is a producer based in London who has had a couple releases, his 20 minute ‘You Drive Me To Plastic’ is a pretty, pretty good listen. Here he has brought together one of the seminal pop albums of all time The Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ with one of the best beat makers of all time ‘J Dilla’, and it’s worked ridiculously well. I put this down to firstly to the standard of the constituent parts and secondly Bullion’s ability to find the point where these two compliment each other best. This could quite easily have been a misstep and a horrible pairing of two great artists, see one of those awful mash-ups that MTV used to play like Busta Rhymes and The Cure. But Bullion knows the province of these artists, and instead of merely laying the two next to one another, playing the beat under the original track, loops and cuts have been used to create something that although is identifiable as The Beach Boys and J Dilla but also as a creation of itself, ‘Caroline, No’ is one of those tracks that really shows this. It is testament to Bullion’s skills as a producer and arranger that this has been pulled off.
My personal favourite idiosyncrasy of the album is Bullion’s use of the studio out-takes from the recording, of which there is a huge amount, of ‘Pet Sounds’ as audio cues and a narrative through the album, Brian Wilson’s cue of the drums in ‘Lets Go Away For A While’ never fails to make me smile. Look, if you like The Beach Boys and J Dilla, or one or the other, this is just a great listen and deserves to be in your music collection.
Two cuts from the album because I just could not choose:
This was one of those albums that passed me when it first came out in the summer of 2011, then came back round. This is not a novel occurrence, what is though is the power with which it has come back around. Like a sling-shot round the moon hit between the eyes kinda power. Black Lips are a bunch of guys from Atlanta in the USA who have released a bunch of albums, under the genre of ‘Flower Punk’. I’m not wholly sure what ‘Flower Punk’is, but Arabia Mountain definitely has the phlegm of the Ramones all over it, see track Raw Meat as testament to that. A bit of garage rock influence and some playful surf combine to make this something of a retrogressive delight. The fact that Mark Ronson got his grubby hands on it should not be a cause for concern, any horns on the album are used sparingly and remarkably to good effect, ‘Family Tree’ being a good example of that.
Maybe it’s just my favourable listening to garage and all things dirty and sludgy right now, but there’s something about this album that sticks out for me. For one, it’s got a sense of humour, ridiculous conversational segues that end with ‘Dude trip out on this…’, songs about scavenging in dumpsters and comic book references abound. Also the sound treads the line between catchy rock n’ roll, country and punk better than anyone I’ve heard in a long time. Don’t take my word for it just stick the middle finger to SOPA and find out for yourself.
The Feelies seem to be one of those band band’s. An important influence on many artists who have gone on to achieve much more recognition than the bands who influenced them… REM, I’m looking at you, oh and hello cover of Weezers ‘Blue Album’ fifteen years before its release. Their sound of sweet minimalistic guitars with polyrhythms was never going to turn them into U2 but they are a band that deserve appreciation, not as progenitors of bigger bands but of what they created themselves. ‘Crazy Rhythms’ as a debut album is much more than just any other New Wave album coming out in the early 80s, it reeks of intelligence, a knowledge of music and of craft in general. From the Aldous Huxley reference in the name, the cover of The Beatles ‘Everybody’s Got Something to Hide…’ (I mean it isn’t exactly ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’), to the ability to layer rhythm guitar on top of rhythm guitar in a much more understated wall of sound, the album always has something new to dig your ear into. Have a listen to ‘Raised Eyebrows’ below and try not to see it as a perfect time capsule for so many eras of music: Post-Punk, Surf-Rock, Power-Pop. It’s like crack and the drums, oh the drums.
Here’s the second album ‘The Good Earth’ produced by REM’s Peter Buck. I’ll give you three guesses for what this album sounds like. I recommend listening to the first album with your friends while drinking heavily, the second album the morning after with your friends commiserating about the events of the night before. The Good Earth
Here you will find Gang of Four. Leeds based, Jagged Guitars, politically motivated and funky as fuck (See tasty melodica action in picture), these guys were New Wave at its newest and waviest. Here you will find their ridiculously good debut Entertainment, their strong follow up Solid Gold and their very own compilation of songs during sessions between 77 and 81 for the Man himself, John Peel. Not much left to say except enjoy.
Here is the long overdue introduction of Mount Kimbie to Auldspeak. These two guys are cut from the similar cloth of James Blake (see below). Blake even had a hand in the album and is a sometime live contributor. They fall into this wave of interesting left-of-centre, UK producers that can be categorised as ‘post-dubstep’ but only if you want to be punched repeatedly in the face. They were never given the same hype that has been afforded to Mr Blake but I think that suits these guys as evidenced by the picture above, they value their privacy. It kind of works too because, as with most bedroom producers, the look isn’t exactly the most important part of the music, or any part of the music at all thankfully.
Here’s a ‘try before you steal from the artists’ slice from Mount Kimbie’s debut album, never has a pause in a song sounded so musically justified.