Grant McLennan poster

Tribute gig poster

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Personal Best - I Go Quiet

There's a lot of this punky DIY sound around right now. We live in golden times. A friend tipped me off about Personal Best last year, but I initially dismissed them.

I was wrong. I played them again - still not there, but we are spoiled with a lot of exciting DIY bands - but then I saw them live. It made sense.

They reminded me of Sourpatch's breakneck speed and infectious noise, and the early 90s American scene that inspired them. Bands like Black Tambourine and Small Factory. Reader, I bought their records at the gig.

Just as I bought their new single. No surprise that they cover Tiger Trap's My Broken Heart on the flip. Personal Best's closest contemporary cousins are Muncie Girls. Have they been on the same bill? If not, do it. They'll blow the doors off the venue.

Dora Maar - Flights

Two years ago this blog (yeah, I know, who the fuck does this blog think it is) said if Dora Maar would light up the charts if they could transcend their influences.

Flights is a stronger, more urgent collection than their debut tape. Walking With Heather really nails matching skinny funk guitars with agitated post-punk sharpness. 

You know what? So does Towering Greyness. They've not really moved away from the Josef K/Orange Juice axis, but they're better at it. In the gap between their tapes, Spinning Coin have stolen a march on Dora Maar's sonic ambitions, but these songs are strong enough to make room for both bands on the radio.

Maybe there'll be a 7" some time and the time will be Dora Maar's. I really hope so.

El Michels Affair feat The Shacks - Strange Boy

This is more accurately The Shacks featuring El Michels Affair because Strange Boy is an otherworldly step away from lazy NYC funk flow.

It's closer to the slo-mo fuzz of It'll Come Around by All Saints Day or Eux Autres' mix of twilight garage rock and sunshine pop. Most obviously, singer Shannon Wise's breathy noir sounds like Hope Sandoval, so add the Jesus and Mary Chain's Sometimes Always to the Strange Boy playlist.

Really, though, this captures the melodrama, poise and menace of The Shangri-Las. It's a moody, atmospheric modern classic. There's a 10" ep coming later this year. It can't come quickly enough.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Eccentric Soul: Sitting in the Park an alternate version

Bob Abrahamian is one of soul music's great collectors and enthusiasts. Until his death two years ago, he shared his passion on a brilliant radio show, Sitting in the Park.

Numero Group have honoured his legacy with a compilation album. Proceeds go to Bob's sister who's maintaining his archive.

I'd have chosen an almost completely different tracklist. Obviously, you've got to have Bob's radio theme tune, Otis Brown and the Delights' Southside Chicago. And then? Well, even though Numero admit that "Sitting in the Park isn't the strongest entry in the Eccentric Soul series", it's both a question of taste and availability.

Half of the songs I selected from Bob's shows aren't on YouTube. Maybe Numero couldn't licence all of their first choices. Whatever, the compilation's worth getting and Bob's shows are online. You listen and make your own playlist. There are so many great songs.

So here's my compilation: 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Zona by Young Scum

Biff Bang Pow! scratched the legend "Jim Beattie you're my guitar hero" in the run-off groove to The Girl Who Runs The Beat Hotel. If Zona was out on vinyl instead of tape, you expect Young Scum might repeat that trick.

If You Say That is a fusillade of guitars like Primal Scream's It Happens, all Byrdsian melodic intent, the power of REM's Reckoning and instant gratification. 

Younger minds will surely hear on this 5-song tape  Allo Darlin's constant melody and mayhem or The Lucksmiths' Warmer Corners or Dream Boys' sun-soaked psychedelia.

Older minds might recall The Rainyard or Another Sunny Day or Razorcuts. Whatever way you look at it, Young Scum combine pop perfection with serious volume. These songs are dynamic, noisy and irresistible. No doubt we'll be hearing a lot more about them soon.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Kylie Auldist

Sometimes the good guys win. This Girl by Cookin' on 3 Burners with Kylie Auldist is one of the last decade's best revival tunes. A remix of the 2009 original is currently all over European radio and charts.

I check out anything with Auldist on it, because all the best Bamboos tracks feature her. The Bamboos knew that, so lead guitarist Lance Ferguson wrote an album with her in 2008, Just Say.

Rawville's a good place to start. This song particularly.

Martha High - Singing for the Good Times

An album by James Brown's longest serving backing vocalist? Yes, please. All originals? Now you're talking. By the woman who was in The Jewels, whose single Opportunity is one of the greatest 60s girl group soul snappers? Bring it on!

Italian producer Luca Sapio has produced and arranged the album to meet at the points of southern soul and gospel just so. No doubt Luca loaded up on Dan Penn, Tony Joe White and Eddie Floyd records before making this.

This isn't a retro album, though, because it sounds so fresh. It veers into pastiche once - The Hardest Working Woman in Town's gutbucket R&B - and sometimes the lyrics creak ("I was blind and now I see" - that line again?) but Singing for the Good Times should, rightly, carry a good chunk of Charles Bradley's fans to the Martha High cause.