• J Mascis at The Garage

    Apr 15 2011, 13:05

    Thu 14 Apr – ATP Presents: J Mascis (solo) + support TBC

    Nice venue, not too big, and with a separate bar area next to the main stage bit. I rarely get to see support acts; last night I managed to catch the rather unfortunately named Rick Tomlinson. Luckily, I'd not had enough to drink to call out 'My Arse', or 'Going for a Tom Tit,' or other such juvenile expressions. After about half an hour of him scratching and plucking his giutar, was very tempted to ask if he had finished tuning up yet....

    But on to the main man, just Mascis and an acoustic guitar. There were a couple of tmes when he was almost talkative, and very funny with it too. Notably, playing a gig the other night, returning to the stage for an encore, to discover the crowd had already left. He opened with The Wagon, sang plenty of songs from the wonderful Several Shades of Why, and included some of his best work with Dinosaur Jr. - Ammaring, Little Furry Things, Get Me, Repulsion, Flying Cloud, and Not You Again. It was a faultless, mesmerising performance. Spoilt only a little by those people who probably thought they were going to see Mascis in front of the usual 10 foot stack of Marshalls, (and to be fair, there was a time when, to all intents and purposes, Mascis was Dinosaur Jr.), and talked all the way through the whole set. Leaving that aside, it felt like a privilege to be there, and I don't really care how sycophantic that sounds!

  • Best of 2010

    Dic 23 2010, 20:49

    2010 has been a very good year for music. Even more so if you enjoy fuzzy jangly/surf/sixties retro music. Avi Buffalo, Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, The School, The Drums, Best Coast, Gigi, and AM have all produced excellent albums.

    Here's my take on 2010

    Biggest Christmas Turkeys

    The Knife in Collaboration with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock , Tomorrow, In A Year
    Bring back The Knife proper, please

    John Grant Queen Of Denmark
    Boring, boring, boring

    10. Spoon Transference

    All round solid album. It has a nice rough and ready feel to it. I'd never heard anything of theirs before, so had nothing to compare it to, which can sometimes be a Good Thing. I did try a couple, (Gimme Fiction and Ga Ga Ga Ga), but didn't find them as exciting as Transference. Is Love Forever?, I Saw The Light and Out Go The Lights are some of the best tracks on the album, but it's the slyly titled Nobody Gets Me But You, with the opening repetitive and primitive drum sounds and bashed piano which does it for me.

    9. Pantha du Prince Black Noise

    I'm not sure what sort of music this is, and don't really care much. Techno? Ambient? It's largely instrumental for sure, apart from guest vocals from Noah Lennox on the lovely Stick To My Side. It's exactly the sort of music I thought I didn't like; moody and atmospheric and without lyrics to contemplate. Yet it is wonderfully uplifting and chilled. Lay In A Shimmer is a lovely opener, although there is no filler anywhere on the album. Most impressively, every track sounds different. No mean feat for an instrumental album.

    8. Shearwater The Golden Archipelago

    Yet another stunning album from Shearwater. An album filled with mystery. fragility and wonder. A set of dreamy songs which Jonathan Meiberg's vocals do absolute justice to. Hidden Lakes, An Insular Life and God Made Me are the highlights.

    7. Jónsi Go

    There seems to be a bit of a theme going on here - albums with no lyrics or lyrics I don't understand - and Go is no exception. It's intense, occasionally exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. Grow Till Tall, Sinking Friendships and Around Us are simply sublime. I don't know if Sigur Rós are planning any more albums any time soon, but Jónsi is more than filling the void for now.

    6. Twin Shadow Forget

    Gets my vote for the most fun, sit back and enjoy album of the year. Nothing complex about it; all 80's nostalgia from the lovely, charming, warm and self effacing George Lewis Jr. Shooting Holes is the most insanely infectious song I've heard all year.

    5. Beach HouseTeen Dream

    Dreamlike, heartbreaking and beautiful album from start to finish. Who would have thought that such mundane titles as Zebra and Norway could evoke such strong feelings of yearning and regret? Lover Of Mine with its simple drum and synth opening is beyond gorgeous. Relentlessly wintry, it's Victoria Legrand's warm vocals which save the album from dragging you down in a mire of melancholia. Just beautiful.

    4. The National High Violet

    Masterpiece is a word bandied about all to frequently. Just not for High Violet. Now whilst no one expected The National to produce a cheery disco stomping affair, they have excelled themselves with an album filled with fear, paranoia and menace. Never has Matt Berninger sounded so desolate and vulnerable. Standout tracks are Conversation 16 and England. On Conversation 16, Berninger intones 'I was less than amazing.' Not this time, no sir. It's err, a masterpiece.

    3. End of a Year You Are Beneath Me

    There are times when nothing beats a nice bit of shouty punk. Unless it's a nice bit of melodic shouty punk. Which is exactly what You Are Beneath Me is. The opening salvo Composite Character is a spoken (shouted?) word track filled with um, advice sometimes ironic, sometimes real. 'To best understand the material, work part time, make less than $20,000 a year, grow your hair out, live under threat of eviction.....Do not treat retarded people like lepers. Really, don't treat lepers like lepers'.....I could go on. The rest of the album is those composite characters, all named, adding their own experiences. Sounds weird eh? Not so much as, It's an absolute corker; raw, rough and energetic. Yet oddly, the outstanding track, Sara Hayden, is an instrumental piece. It's crushingly beautiful.

    And this is where it got tough, so..............

    =1. The Radio Dept. Clinging to a Scheme

    Four long years in the making, albeit with a couple of decent EPs produced in the interim. An album which seemed to suffer constant delays. It's said if you leave someone hungry for long enough, they will eat shit and declare it delicious. Fortunately Clinging To A Scheme is anything but shit. My personal favourite of theirs. Although it follows much the same tried and tested fuzzed out jangly guitar sound, it has a slightly harder and less sweet sound. And benefits from it. There is not a single track which might be regarded as filler. Domestic Scene opens the album perfectly and from then on doesn't put a foot wrong. It's my most listened to album of 2010, and I've not tired of it yet. I believe the Swedes make the best music in the world - This album confirms it.

    =1. Sufjan Stevens The Age of Adz

    The Age Of Adz is a mess. Possibly the most polarising album of the year. For those expecting the next in the States project might have more to be disappointed about. Although You Are The Blood, produced for the Dark Was The Night album, and the sudden appearance of the wonderful All Delighted People EP gave a very good indication of the direction Sufjan was going. I find myself wondering if he had some sort of breakdown whilst recording this album. On the gorgeous Vesuvius he intones his name over and over again, and sings 'The murdering ghosts that you cannot ignore...Why does it have to be so hard?' The album opens up quietly enough with the beautiful Futile Devices and ends with Boy, the last 3 minutes of the 25 magnificent minutes of Impossible Soul. It's an album which is (for me) impossible to describe anywhere near adequately. You have to listen to it yourself and then listen again, and again. Yes, The Age Of Adz is a mess. The most glorious, magnificent, spellbinding, victorious mess I have ever heard. I absolutely love it.

    That's it. Thanks for reading. I wish you all a joyous and peaceful Christmas.
  • Best of 2009

    Nov 27 2009, 20:40

    Close Contenders

    Manic Street Preachers Journal For Plague Lovers
    The Low Anthem Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
    Andrew Bird Noble Beast

    Most exciting album of 2009

    Nirvana Live at Reading

    But my favourite albums of 2009 are these:

    10. The Leisure Society The Sleeper

    A pleasant little album, made prettier by the gorgeous The Last of the Melting Snow, (Ivor Novello nominated apparently), Are We Happy?, and The Sleeper, then counteracted with the sourness of Save It For Someone Who Cares, We Were Wasted and The Darkest Place I know. Wonderful debut album.

    9. Atlas Sounds Logos

    I'd never heard of this guy before and even less made the Bradford Cox/Deerhunter connection, which is slightly odd given that I love Deerhunter. I didn't like Logos much when I first heard it; it sounded unfinished, slightly rough cut. The classic case of an album being a grower. Standout tracks, Walkabout, Sheila?/ Shelia? and Quick Canal, the highspot of the album.

    8. Memory Tapes Seek Magic

    The Melding of Weird Tapes/Memory Cassette evidently. Although info on either band is a little sparse. Seek Magic is a fun dreamy, electronic affair in a dance-y sort of way. The first 3 tracks Swimming Field, Bicycle (with the inevitable-but-not-in-a-bad-way New Order comparison), and Green Knight are the strongest cuts on the album, although no tracks could be regarded as filler.

    7. Papercuts You Can Have What You Want

    One of those quietly understated albums which took a while to grow on me. Fragile and ethereal, it lends itself to repeated listening. The ghostly Future Primitive is a wonderful track, but for sheer beauty The Machine Will Tell Us So, and You Can Have What You Want allow you to wallow in introspection and longing. Yet are still strangely uplifting.

    6. The Mars Volta Octahedron

    So here's my confession, I never really liked TMV; or at least not De-Loused and Frances. They were just too messy and dissonant for me. Then they go and bring out Octahedron, their take on an acoustic album allegedly, and It's beautiful. Still plenty of squall and mess, but shot through with melodic choruses and riffs. From the opening track Since we've Been Wrong, it simply doesn't put a foot err, wrong. Cotopaxi and Luciforms are worth the price of the album alone

    5. The Clientele Bonfires On The Heath

    Lovely seasonal album as the title might suggest. Scrunching through the autumn leaves, the smell of woodsmoke, hazy, frosty early mornings. Largely a set of relentlessly heartbreaking and beautiful songs, with seemingly little hope of respite. Yet The Clientele still manage to capture a certain warmth throughout the album. I Wonder Who We Are, Never Anyone But You, and the gorgeous Share The Night are the cream of some of the best love songs written this year.

    4. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

    Probably the most infectious and fun album of 2009. Filled with easy dreamy pop; nothing complex about it, nothing to bring on a dose of melancholia. Yet has staying power. How easy it is to love an album so much you practically listen on repeat, for what seems like forever, and then get bored with it. Not so with this one. Although they have a prettily gorgeous EP, Higher Than The Stars out should that happen... Highly recommended.

    3. Dinosaur Jr. Farm

    Dino deliver yet again. (Just in case Beyond with the new and reformed J, Murph, and Barlow looked like being a flash in the pan). Farm is just an all round great album. Pieces is the perfect opener, pulls you in, and compels you to stay for the rest of it. Although I do think Imagination Blind is the only weak (or maybe less strong) track on the album. There is nothing particularly new about Farm, and I see nothing wrong with that, why change a winning formula when you've been in the business as long as these guys have, and are as good as they are? But there is of course the to-die-for guitar solos, I Don't Wanna Go There, and the heartbreakingly beautiful love songs, Plans and See You. Saw Dino earlier this year, and it finally struck me; part of J's genius guitar playing is the fact that he makes it look totally effortless..

    2. Matisyahu Light

    Fervent Hassidic Jew eh? Singing songs of his faith in a rap/reggae/hip-hop/beatbox/freeform way, eh? Who would have thought Light could be such an astoundingly good album? (Not many evidently; overall, the album gets some pretty dire reviews). Here.http://www.metacritic.com/music/artists/matisyahu/light?q=matisyahu Yet astoundingly good album it is. Smash Lies, So Hi So Lo and I will Be Light, (possibly my favourite track from the album), are taken from the lesser known Shattered EP. One Day and Darkness Into Light are standout tracks too. I absolutely love this album simply because it is uplifting, positive and fills me with hope. Not with the hope of some sort of spiritual redemption or awakening, I don't mean that. I guess it is the passion and sincerity Matis sings with. It kind of rubs off. Again, I saw him live a few weeks ago, and it was one of the most astonishing, memorable and joyous gigs I have been to.

    1. Andrew Morgan Please Kid, Remember

    Andrew Morgan has crafted a gossamer fine, delicate album of love and loss; yearning and regret, (are not all the finest albums based on such sentiments?), yet manages to make it anything but a depressing affair. He captures his feelings with a warmth and gentility and an almost gleeful contemplation of nights drawing in, the trees shedding their leaves, the cold winds blowing in, and the first snowfall of the year. His hushed and wistful vocals and the chiming melodies throughout the album add to the feeling of warmth and hope. Absolute highlights are Victory In Passing, (It's not a lament, it's a victory, just joyous), As Long As We're Together, First Snow Of The Year, and Turn Your Collar To The Cold. Please Kid, Remember was aptly described as 'like listening to music from within a snow globe.' I can't top that. I just wish I'd thought of it first....

    That's it. Please let me know what other masterpieces I have missed this year!