Wednesday 25 April 2018

RSD: Feel it

Like many, I initially welcomed Record Store Day at its inception as I believed (and still do) that independent record shops are the lifeblood of the industry and should be supported. At the time, I wasn't buying vinyl as my purse strings were too tight. However, the fall out of the event annoyed me. The vulgar display of reselling at inflated prices on eBay by non-music fans riled me so much, I deliberately avoided Record Store Day every year from that point on. Until last year that is, when I so desperately wanted to pick up the beautiful triple-coloured-vinyl reissue of 'Copper Blue' by Sugar. I queued outside Spillers for a couple of hours and chatted with people the whole time. 'Twas a rather enjoyable experience.

This year, there was just one thing I saw that I thought would be nice to have but it wouldn't have broken my heart had I not got it. I didn't queue at all this year - couldn't be arsed. I didn't even go as far as Cardiff. Instead I just strolled into Newport to visit Diverse around lunchtime. By that point, the shop was very quiet, the rush having come and gone. Some muppets had been queuing from 4am in order to grab an overpriced rarity or two!

If I had a far less limited budget, I could go a bit crazier on RSD. Instead, I tend to restrict myself to a couple of items. This year, the only thing that really grabbed my attention was 'Feel', an exclusive EP of new material by Belly on 10" blue-spattered vinyl. Diverse, sadly, had sold out by the time I got there. No matter - I trotted off to Newport Market where Kriminal Records is located. I hadn't realised, but a record fair was being held there too and it was there I managed to grab a copy of 'Feel'.

I hadn't been to a record fair in years. Decades, in fact. Back in the day, I would have spent a fortune, but I'm much more disciplined these days and instead was just content to browse the wares on each stall. I'm still in the process of tracking down vinyl copies of my 50 albums to take to my grave, but the ones I have left to find are proving elusive. I figure if I'm going to find them, then a record fair is a pretty good place to start. Not this time though. I left with just my Belly 10" under my arm and headed for the barbers. Despite not bagging any more goodies, I was happy; that old feeling of flicking through crates of records, never knowing what you might come across, the occasional item bringing a nostalgic smile to my face - ah, you can't beat that.

I haven't checked eBay or anywhere like that to see what the mercenaries are flogging their purchases for - it'll only depress and anger me. At least RSD hasn't proven to be the hysterical free-for-all I imagined it to be.

Here's a track from the Belly EP that won't be on the forthcoming comeback album.

Saturday 21 April 2018

Korea Opportunities #2

Remember last month when I struggled to find a half-decent band from Korea to post for TheDoopster's birthday? I knew there had to be plenty of good bands over there, but they proved so elusive to me. Then last week, I discovered Say Sue Me, a band from Busan whose sound is reminiscent of classic British indie bands from the 80s and 90s. They've just released their second album 'Where We Were Together' and it's rather good. Here's my favourite track from it, one of their faster, more raucous numbers.

I also love closing track Coming To The End. It was one of the last tracks they recorded with their drummer Kang Semin who had a fall while making the record and ended up in a coma. He remains a member of the band, though his role is being taken on a temporary basis by stand-ins while he recovers. I've made an edit of Coming To The End as a sample for you - the album version is 7½ minutes long. If you want the full version, buy the album from their Bandcamp page, along with their brand new covers EP, released for Record Store Day.

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Holy psych!

Blackwater Holylight is not a band name that trips of the tongue all that easily. It sounds like a doom metal band name too. This lot come from Portland, OR. and while there are musical infuences galore in their sound, you can't go far wrong if you wanted to just call them 'psych'. In fact, their record label describes them thus: "Heavy psych riffs, gothic drama, folk-rock vibes, garage-sludge and soaring melodies." Yup, there's a lot going on in there.

Their self-titled debut album has just come out and it's a bit of a treat. Think September Girls, only more spacey and ethereal. Here's some footage of them playing Babies, a track from the album, live. Loving this lots at the mo.

Saturday 14 April 2018

"When your dinner isn't ready, I'm your uninvited guest."

After a somewhat slow start to the year in terms of good new music, things are really trickling through now. I was delighted this week to learn that there's a new Gruff Rhys album due in June. It's his fifth solo record and he's really gone to town on it. It features the 72-piece BBC National Orchestra Of Wales with each song scored by Swansea composer Stephen McNeff. Lead single Frontier Man still sounds like Gruff Rhys though, albeit a Gruff Rhys singing a classic orchestrated country tune. Lyrically he's on top form too.

I love Gruff. He should be given the title of Prince of Wales. No one ought to mind the Severn Crossing being renamed then...

Thursday 12 April 2018

"Razors cut your grace!"

Le Butcherettes have signed to a metal label and put a new song out called spider/WAVES. As expected, the narrow-minded misogynists who subscribe to metal label channels on You Tube aren't thrilled. But fuck 'em. Le Butcherettes are one of the most exciting bands around right now, especially live. I'm absolutely loving this new song. Hanging out with the Melvins and At The Drive-In has clearly rubbed off on our Mexican amigos. And Teri Gender-Bender is as fantastically nuts as ever. If this is what the new album's going to be like, bring it on!

Tuesday 10 April 2018

"How long 'til we take responsibility?"

Another brilliant new release is the debut album (proper) by madcap Mancunians Cabbage. I think it may have been Swiss Adam who brought their name to my attention two or three years ago. Shortly after I caught them supporting Yak in front of a few dozen people at a tiny Cardiff venue. They were chaotic, exhuberant and a little bit weird - all very good things. Since then, they've released a clutch of EPs and singles and been touted as one of the most exciting new bands in Britain. They're certainly one of the most confrontational, socially-aware and political bands around, in a time where most artists sing about nothing in particular while the country's being ripped apart by Tories, white nationalists and an agenda-ridden media.

Arms Of Pleonexia is a song that's getting stuck in my head quite a bit, but the whole album (entitled 'Nihilistic Glamour Shots') is definitely worth a listen if you like something a little more hard-hitting and challenging than bearded blokes with acoustic guitars and synths. I should at this point say that some people (bearded blokes with acoustic guitars and synths, perhaps?) may find this video a little disturbing. Diddums...

Sadly, in answer to the question the band poses, I fear if "we" ever will...

Friday 6 April 2018

"You're the man for me..."

Goat Girl's self-titled debut album is released today. It has 19 songs on it yet still barely reaches the 40-minute mark. My fave track of theirs (that I've heard so far) is The Man, a devastatingly simple, yet absolutely cracking rock 'n' roll tune with a brilliant Hard Day's Night pastiche video. This record will be soundtracking my commute quite a bit in the coming weeks methinks...

Sunday 1 April 2018

A song for... April

It's April Fool's Day. No tricks, jokes or high jinks here. I'm not clever or witty enough to pull it off. Instead, a song by an artist who has had quite a profound effect on me over the years. Patti Smith's debut album 'Horses' is one of the greatest albums of all time and she remains a huge influence on many musicians, male and female. She's 71 now and still going strong, recording, performing, writing and making all manner of art. Today's aptly-titled track is from her 2012 album 'Banga', one of her most highly-accaimed records in decades.