Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Review of 'Oczy Mlody' by The Flaming Lips



Whilst not quite the psychedelic mindfuck that 2013’s The Terror was, The Lips’ latest record is still enjoyably and reliably bonkers.

The trippy synths and faraway vocals are back and the atmosphere may be just as clawing, but lyrics about frogs and shitting unicorns show that the mood has lightened. Instrumental quirks pepper the album including a synth bass solo towards the backend of ‘Nidgie Nie’ and ELO-esque orchestral strings in ‘Galaxy I Sink’ – something you wouldn’t have heard on The Terror. Plus there are a number of new hip hop flavourings stippled throughout.

Hip hop? On a Flaming Lips record? You’ll be glad to know it’s largely an instrumental influence - the fat slimy bass of ‘How???’and Yeezus-like distortion of mouthful-of-a-title ‘One Night While Hunting For Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill’ both creatively showing off the experimental rockers’ urban side. Coyne fortunately refrains from rapping, although he does dabble in auto-tune – an unpleasant surprise, although in some ways an improvement on the shaky unaltered falsettos adorning the rest of the album.

It sucks that Wayne still can’t sing, but as always this flaw is made up for instrumentally. Only the Lips could blend eighties sci-fi keys and futuristic hip hop percussion and make it feel so natural. It’s as if the band have been producing with 808s for years.

Perhaps Miley is responsible for the group’s newfound urban side? The pop diva has a guest appearance on the final track – not the first time she’s collaborated with The Lips if my scarred memory serves me correctly. It’s an unlikely partnership, but one that I now realise has mutual benefits – Miley using it to destroy her past, The Lips using it to relive theirs.

Oczy Mlody is Polish for ‘Eyes of the young’ and whilst Wayne claims he did not choose the title for its meaning, it does feel like the middle-aged psych-rockers are eager to be young again. Even some of Wayne’s unnecessary sweary lyrics feel frighteningly Miley-esque. That said, I don’t think the band are about to pull a Madonna any time soon – their attempts to play with urban flavourings are done tastefully for the most part. In fact, they result in something quite innovative. Well done Miley for your influence (although I can’t say you’ve quite redeemed yourself yet).

TRACK TASTER:


Saturday, 28 January 2017

INTRODUCING: Vulture St. Tape Gang



Meet the Vulture St. Tape Gang.

They’re a barmy band from Brisbane that blends jazz improvisation and hip hop flavourings.

They self-describe their sound as ‘Beats made on the fly. Totally improvised. Recorded straight to cassette 4-track. Beats take as long to make as they do to listen to. Their latest album Mick’s Nuts is a 57 track long tape containing these very beats, comprising of songs titles such as ‘Harold Holt and The Killer Babes From Atlantis’ and ‘Menu Screen For Some Really Dark Game’. You can feast your ears on the album below.




More recently they released ‘1st World Problems Solved’, an actual full-length song of sorts that I praised on this blog for its sexy groove and relatable lyrics: ‘If I see another pussy I’m gonna be sick’. Made on the fly or not - the band's beats are undeniably inventive, made all the more entertaining by their uniquely hilarious personality.

Eager to get to know the band more, I decided to take an hour out of my day and swim over to Brisbane from the UK to interview the trio. Read on for some serious chat involving rival tape gangs of Brisbane, pizzas with faces and liaising with BADBADNOTGOOD and Hiatus Kaiyote...


If Vulture St. Tape Gang was a pizza what toppings would it have?

Lots of meat. Anything with a face. Actually all the faces. Made into cubes so that there's extra faces. 

I recently listened to Mick’s Nuts and it was so good I had a seizure. What made you choose to record beats on cassette tapes?

Thank you and apologies for the seizure. To be completely honest with you, we didn't use tape for that mix tape. But we did release it on tapes coz we are hipsters and tapes are cool. We used to record on a tascam 4 track but not anymore. We're making high quality pop hits now. 

Your latest sexy single ‘1st World Problems Solved’ seems a little different from previous material. I mean, like, it’s an actual song. Do you have more singles like this planned? Or strictly beats?

The next release will be a bunch of almost songs. It'll be the stepping stone between our 30 second song mixtapes to our 3min radio bangers and number 1's. The next release is inbetweensies. 1 min almost songs. 



Tell me about your individual origins. One of you was a local baroque/classical pianist, right?

The voodoo shaman, our synth lord, was forced to play baroque music for dinner guests by his angry master when he was a small child. His master had many guest that would stay for weeks at a time and he'd be forced to play Bach til his tiny finger tips swelled up to the size of larger finger tips. 

Best Foot Forward has played for many bands, some of which you may have heard of, some of which you haven't and maybe a few that sound vaguely familiar. 

I am a dumb ass that gets drunk and rambles about unrequited love and pineal glands and the anunnaki and whatever. 

Who are your musical influences?

Well me personally, hi, mchypeman here, I don't really like music. I'm more of a sports kind of guy. I guess my main musical inspirations are the music on beer ads and sports shows but definitely subconsciously. 

You’ve previously supported Hiatus Kaiyote and BADBADNOTGOOD. Did you get to talk to the members backstage?

I wasn't at the bad bad not good show coz I'm expendable and I live in Melbourne but I got to meet them in Melbourne, lovely fellows. 

As for hiatus, they were way too snobby to talk to us and I think they were all high on meth. JOKES. We are all very tight, in fact the bass player bender is co-producing our next release. 

Are there any other rival tape gangs in Brisbane? 

There's the Wickham tce mp3 boys and the Stafford Rd minidisc mob but not other tape gangs. But we have been rolled by both of the aforementioned gangs. 

I found this video and it confused me slightly. Care to explain? 



That's a little teaser for our mix tape "hung phat jewellery" made by our mate Kirkis who is a deadset legend. 

What does the future hold for Vulture St. Tape Gang?

The next EP and then after that probably full blown radio length hits. Then all the gobbies. 

Follow Vulture St. Tape Gang at: https://www.facebook.com/VultureStTapeGang/ 

Friday, 27 January 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 27/01/2017: Jamiroquai, Syd, Mike Tyson and more…



This week I bring you songs about windfarms and diss tracks courtesy of Mike Tyson amongst other weird shit that proves everyone in 2017 has officially lost their marbles.

THE BEST:

‘Windfarm’ - DRYNX


This lovably corny funk jam by indie duo DRYNX has to be the best song about windfarms that I’ve ever heard. It’s also the only song I’ve heard about windfarms. So, you know, pioneering lyrical territory. That horse in the artwork probably needs to quit the fags though.

'Automaton' - Jamiroquai

 


Jamiroquai are back packing some sci-fi grooves and a cool new hat. Their blend of electronica and funk is pushed to futuristic new levels with some scary-sounding next-level synths, whilst Jay Kay's vocals are feelgood as ever, although touched up with some robotic effects. Not sure why he's singing 'I'm a tomato' at the end?

‘No (Part II)’ - CAPYAC



I couldn’t find Part I. I’m not even sure it exists. You’ll just have to dive into the sequel, which happens to be an impeccably crafted disco house anthem. Todd Terje a la mode with a hint of Daft Punk. According to the band’s Facebook bio, they make ‘balloonwave’ and come from ‘the moon’.

‘Body’ - Syd


Syd is frontwoman of The Internet (a band called ‘The Internet’ not frontwoman of the whole internet) and former member of Odd Future. She’s now gone solo, delivering this breathy pop slowjam set against metallic minimal electronica that clicks and oozes.

‘No Swag No Swag’ - Caleon Fox


I’ve recently grown a soft spot for goofy rap – it’s nice to see hip hoppers rebelling against the whole tough guy notion of cool. Just look at Caleon Fox’s hair. That isn’t a wig, as he boldly points out in the lyrics. In fact, this whole song seems to be about proudly not having swag, which by the same token earns Caleon a certain level of swag. It’s known as the swag paradox (TRUST ME I’M A SWAGOLOGIST). Usually the mumble-rap delivery would be a turn off, but I guess the glossy beat compensates.

THE WORST:

‘If You Show Up’ – Mike Tyson


Soulja Boy and Chris Brown have recently been having a feud and now Mike Tyson, of all people, has got involved. The result is a diss track aimed at Soulja Boy, lip synced by a bunch of Instagram chicks, altogether rather confusing. 

Friday, 20 January 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 20/01/2017: Joey Bada$$, Arcade Fire, Dutch Uncles and more...


As the world wishes bye bye to Obama, musicians worldwide anxiously look towards a future with Trump as president. For those wondering where the new Gorillaz track is – I’m still on the fence with it, but those that haven’t heard it ought to give it a listen here.

THE BEST:


‘Oh Yeah’ – Dutch Uncles


Band name of the week. Sporting groovy basslines and shiny synths, this UK indie pop group come through with a feelgood eighties vibe, whilst spicing things up with a touch of progginess.

‘Painting Of Skeletal Goats Grinding their Teeth Across The Sky’ – Imelda Marcos



Track title of the week. Clanging harmonics and druggy slide guitar make for some percussive instrumental noise rock. Think Primus notched up a gear. Fans should definitely check out the Chicago duo’s new album, which is full of similar innovative guitar clanking (it’s all fairly challenging stuff though, so Maroon 5 fans steer clear).

‘Land of the Free’ - Joey Bada$$



Today is both Inauguration Day and Joey’s birthday. It’s also the one year anniversary of the Brooklyn rapper’s debut album. Joey may be celebrating two of those events, but he’s definitely commiserating the third: ‘Sorry America but I will not be your soldier/ Obama just wasn’t enough – I need more closure/ And Donald Trump is not equipped to take this country over’. Did I mention the production is phenomenal?

‘I Give You Power’ – Arcade Fire ft. Mavis Staples


I give you power … and I take it away’. What an amazing protest statement that is.  Long-time Arcade Fire fans seem to be divided over this new darker approach, instrumentally backed by some outlandish organ playing and grotesque guitars. Personally, I’m liking it more than their wishy-washy origins – as with Reflektor it’s got some nice oomph to it. But whilst Reflektor got your shoulders moving, this kicks you in the gut.

‘Nadie Salva’ – Leandro Kalen



It’s not often I feature Argentinian jazz fusion on this blog. This effortlessly smooth track proves I need to branch out more. Those that enjoy this should definitely give the rest of the artist’s album a go, featuring some sexy jazz chords, slinky bass and intense percussion. Listen here on Bandcamp.

THE WORST:


‘eNGLISH’ - Maxime


So, apparently this dude paid for his song to become a Youtube ad and now it’s gone viral with over thirteen million plays (I’m sure that number will have risen by the time you’ve read this). The man is a marketing genius, even if the song is clearly a joke. I HOPE. 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Review of 'RTJ3' by Run The Jewels


Three albums in (excluding the remix of their last record made entirely on cat meows), partners in crime El-P and Killer Mike are still dropping mean bars and beats under the alias Run the Jewels. Are the duo still running the rap game? Or has their reign run its course?

Back in 2013, the riddle-spinning Brooklyn rapper and straight-talking Atlanta emcee combined their two styles to create a winning formula of witty trash-talking, hilarious boasting and fiery politics over some hard-hitting futuristic beats courtesy of El-P himself. Their follow-up album, RTJ2, saw them rounding up eclectic guests from Gangsta Boo to Travis Barker, whilst diversifying the production – but ultimately sticking to the same tasty recipe.

Their latest offering RTJ3 - released on Christmas day as a surprise gift to fans - meanwhile sees the duo only making a few minor tweaks to their sound. The instrumentals are for one more intense, consisting of more bangers and less breathers. Whether he’s getting funky on ‘Oh Mama’ or playing with dark synths as in the closer ‘Kill Your Masters’, El Producto seemingly refuses to let the energy die. The lyrics have meanwhile stayed topical – whilst I’m sure to soon grow tired of token anti-Trump tracks, ‘2100’ is a revolt anthem taken from a refreshingly positive angle.

Otherwise, Run the Jewels are largely retreading the same ground – which is a plus and a minus. I’m happy to see Killer Mike spurting the same cartoonishly villainous bars (‘went to jail and we murdered the murderers there’) just as I’m happy to hear El-P dishing out the same harsh life perspectives (‘get a job, get a house, get a coffin’). But some of the similarities do feel like Déjà vu. Both Boots and Zack de la Rocha return to give guest vocals – couldn’t the duo have freshened things up with a new line-up of guests? And isn’t ‘Panther like a Panther’ just a lesser version of RTJ2’s sex anthem ‘Love Again’?

Perhaps the pair will take a sharp turn into new territory on their next release and RTJ3 is simply a way of the duo neatly tying off a trilogy. Either way it’s still a fun ride.

TRACK TASTER:

Friday, 13 January 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 13/01/2017: Blanck Mass, Wolf Eyes, Pharmakon and more...



None of the music this week is particularly accessible. If you don’t like it, try somewhere poppy like the charts, or Pop Justice, or Pitchfork…

THE BEST:


‘Please’ - Blanck Mass



British electronic artist Blanck Mass delivers this slowbuilding electronic instrumental. Be patient with it – once that satisfying sub-bass and gunshot snare come in you’ll feel it in your loins.

‘First World Problems’ - Vulture St. Tape Gang


This is one smooth-ass soulful beat. Apparently, all the instrumentals that this Brisbane group produce are ‘made on the fly. Totally improvised. Recorded straight to cassette 4-track’ and take ‘as long to make as they do to listen to’. As further proved by the lyrics ‘I’m getting so many vaginas up on this dick/that if I see another pussy I’m gonna be sick’, these guys certainly aren’t modest, which is a shame because as you guys know by now, I’m all about modesty. I'M THE MOTHERFUCKING GURU OF MODESTY.

‘Undertow’ – Wolf Eyes



Self-described as a ‘sea-bottom r&b sound lurch’ by the Detroit band themselves, this track combines dark ambience, abstract poetry and a disjointed rhythm, resulting in the kind of avant-garde music I can see myself swaying to over a smoky campfire with a bunch of hippy witches whilst occasionally stirring a bubbling cauldron full of frogs’ toes and newts’ eyes - all the while BUTT NAKED, for the record. Some of y’all might just think it’s a load of repetitive, pretentious rubbish – which I did think at first - but then I found myself returning to those hypnotic alien sounds, and now I’m a believer. Not a trace of doubt in my mind.

‘Transmission’ – Pharmakon


This song makes me want to throw up violently - which is praise, not criticism. Those that know the New York noise project of Margaret Chardiet will know that all of her material aims to be as creatively disturbing as humanly possible. This latest sonic assault doesn’t disappoint – the cold stabbing synth forming an ominous backdrop for some of Chardiet’s signature tortured wails. That artwork is also pretty nasty - I practically feel those greasy fingers all over my face.

THE WORST:


‘We a Famly’ – The Flaming Lips ft. Miley Cyrus


Wayne, why are you using auto-tune? And can you guys please just stay away from Miley Cyrus? Please. PLEASE.

 ‘A’ – Syringe



This sure is a long build-up … hang on a second! THE WHOLE TRACK IS JUST HIM SAYING ‘A’???

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

INTRODUCING: The Vanity Project


Meet The Vanity Project.

They’re a wacky indie rock duo from Manchester, regularly known to perform live shows in boiler suits and make-up, musically influenced by the likes of Everything Everything, Animal Collective and tUnE-yArDs. According to their press release, they write ‘sci fi ballads about the mechanization of labour and quiet hymns about failed interventionism’.

Graduation Blues is their latest exciting EP, instrumentally brimming with chorus-effects-slathered guitars, cinematic synths and cowbell-heavy percussion. Their lyrics alternate between poignantly political and brilliantly bizarre – occasionally meeting somewhere in the middle: ‘just keep me tranquilised with tea’.


From songs about apples and anti-Semites to songs about coming out as transgender, most of the EP seems to centre around the duo’s arrival at adulthood and the realisation that it is all rather confusing and shit. But instead of being a bunch a whiny millennial musings, their insights come across charming due to the humour and eccentricity that the pair are able to pour into their music. Perhaps one of my favourite songs is ‘Body Bag pt.1’, in which Flora seems to lose it at the end lamenting ‘If only I could spell my name!’, following an eerie detuned synth kind of similar to the THX sound effect in reverse.

Given the chance to interview the band, I decided to get into the duo's psyche and better understand the minds behind the madness. We hooked up and dined on cake, pizza and Brexit and here is the result…

If The Vanity Project was a pizza what toppings would it have?
Flora: It would be covered in chocolate sherbertglobes, roseberry fizztwizzlers and everlasting gobstoppers. But as you bit into it you’d find the juicy sweet tomato puree was actually HUMAN BLOOD.
Your new EP is the dog’s bollocks. For a duo, you guys play with a lot of exciting instruments. Who plays which instruments?
Rob: Thank you! We each play a bit of everything, except Flora can't drum for shit and my keyboard skills are non-existent. A lot of the weirder sounds come from an Ultranova Novation synthesiser and a Roland Handsonic 10 drum pad. While it’s difficult to get synthesised drums to sound right, it does allow you to put timpanis and santoors on an indie rock record.
I quite like the line ‘we all become tories in the end’ in Graduation Blues. Would you consider yourself political lefties? Is this a social comment on the fact that the older generations seem to have all turned right wing (it would certainly seem that way from the demographics that voted for Brexit and Trump)?
Rob: Yeah, we would call ourselves lefties, but when we explore political issues in our songs, we don't tend to push a particular agenda explicitly. That's mostly cos we don't have any answers, we're just acutely aware that everything is going to shit. That lyric comes from a particular experience I had when a woman asked if I’d voted Labour. When I said yes, she responded 'of course you did, that's because you're young.’ Truthfully, I have become less left wing as I've gotten older – I was an anarchist for a bit during my teens. The whole song is about the death of idealism: politically, and the idealistic dreams you hold for your own life *cough, like trying to make your indie band work, cough*. Idealism is all well and good when you're young and looked after by your parents, but when you’re older and have bills to worry about, you do get a bit more money driven. I worry that socialism is a luxury for the middle classes and I think Brexit and Trump have shown that.
I watched your music video for Graduation Blues. I’m sorry no-one came to your B-day bash. Did you enjoy your cake?
Flora: The cake was, in a word, dogshite. It was dry and the icing tasted of doorknobs. When I ripped it apart in my hands it was pure catharsis, not just on account of the bad experience I had had with that cake, but as a purging, a violent cleansing, of the trauma incurred from all food that appears precious yet tastes of despair. I asked Rob if we could get Sainsbury's Finest but by that point he'd spent all the budget on disco lights that DIDN'T EVEN MAKE THE FINAL CUT.

You have red stuff on your boiler suits. What happened? When are you going to put them in the wash?
Rob: We had one of our pizzas.
What music have you guys been listening to recently?
Flora: The extent to which I've only been listening to PC Music for the past month is unhealthy. I'm only just now coming out of the phase with a lovely EP from serpentwithfeet called Blisters, very soulful, quite Antony and the Johnsons. Best album of the year was The Colour In Anything by James Blake, and for once me and Rob are agreed on it!
Rob: In terms of when we were making the EP, we were rinsing XTC's Skylarking and Hjaltalin's Terminal. Both records are orchestral and grand but have a ton of unexpected sonic flourishes, which I think you can see reflected in the EP.



Jonathan Higgs of Everything Everything likes your music. Have you met him personally?
Flora: Strap in Alisdair this next part's a rollercoaster. There's a lyric on Fortune 500 that's a bit of a riddle. If you check its Genius page it's been annotated by the band with some cryptic comments. I posted about it on Reddit, then started receiving a lot of strange anonymous messages there that were even more puzzling. I eventually put two and two together after he tweeted the words ‘grotto fail’ at us… keen readers will note that it’s an anagram of “Flora got it”. We happened to be playing a festival they were headlining around that time, so I sent back a coded message that they should come see us. And they did. I won’t say what the answer to the riddle was.
What are live shows like? I understand there’s lots of loop pedal
Rob: The loop pedal is something of a necessity, as there’s only two of us, so we loop various sections to get a full band sound. We don’t like to think of ourselves as loop artists though, I feel like the stereotype there is layering various affected guitar riffs on top of one another and mumbling into a mic. Our shows are pretty manic – lots of swapping instruments, running around and hitting things. At the moment they’re birthday party themed to go along with the EP. We bring party poppers, balloons and, very often, cake.  
Flora: I guess you’ll have to come to one of our shows (George Tavern, London 10th Jan; Zombie Shack  Manchester, 24th Jan) to find out!
Rob: …or you can watch a video of it here: 

But come to the shows as well. Please.

What does the future hold for The Vanity Project? Any New Year’s resolutions?

Flora: Three words: big brand deals. I’m talking Coke. I’m talking Pepsi. We’ll do both!

Rob: We’re planning to play as many gigs as we can, particularly in Manchester and London. We have two more singles planned for release this year… let’s just say Trump and Brexit are a recurring theme. 

Follow The Vanity Project on Twitter @TVPband

Friday, 6 January 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 06/01/2017: London Grammar, Desperate Journalist, Desiigner and more...


Every musical artist ever seemed to release music last year (or at least every artist I care about). What does this new year have to bring to the table? Come on 2017. You have a lot of living up to do…

THE BEST:

‘Rooting For You’ - London Grammar


London Grammar (the chick that sung the closer of Disclosure’s Settle) is back to grace our ears with a phenomenally moving new single titled ‘Rooting For You’.  Hannah Reid let’s her haunting voice go a capella for the first half – I was convinced there wouldn’t be an instrumental at all – but then a backdrop of strings erupts into the mix pushing the song onto a whole new stratospheric level of splendour. Technically its not quite a 2017 track given it was released on New Year's Eve. This year hasn't proved itself yet.

'Cheers' - Dabbla (prod. GhostTown)



High Focus signed hip hop artist Dabbla lays some spiky bars over a bonkers beat by Grime producer GhostTown. He’s got to be the first rapper I’ve heard rhyme together ‘sternum’ and ‘German’.

'Ocean' - The Visions



Brooklyn trio The Visions deliver this sonic seascape of squelchy g-funk synths and clackety percussion (gotta love the random lone clap at the end too). The vocals kind of drone about in the background but the beat makes up for it.

‘Resolution’ - Desperate Journalist



LISTEN HERE

Rocking some vocals that kind of remind me of a female Morrissey, this London post-punk band release this triumphant track topically titled ‘Resolution’.  The band name also speaks to me.

‘Your Highness’ - Beachheads



Kvelertak members Vidar and Marvin offer up this new punk/pop project (note my distinction between pop-punk and punk/pop) titled Beachheads, their latest single ‘Your Highness’ made up of bouncy guitars and singalong vocals. It’s a far cry from the shrieking metal they’re usually known for, but equally as fun.  

THE WORST:

‘Outlet’ - Desiigner


The censoring is pointless given you he's already incomprehensible.