electro-rap (‘Television’), spattering arpeggios and choppy funk (‘Guelmim 5000’), and spiralling, thumb-piano croons (‘Shoenhut’).
The release is completed by six livelier
remixes of tracks from Geti and Polyphonic’s capricious second long- player, Terradactyl: it includes persuasive flips from Anticon all-stars Jel and Why?, who respectively detonate
SINGLES & DOWNLOADS
Wow. Whisper it, but we might just have stumbled upon one of the most half-decent months of Singles & Downloads in recent memory. Where to start? How about in the most unlikely of places, with Plan B’s ‘Love Goes Down’ (679) ●●●●● and the continuing reinvention of sub-Skinner UK rap wide-boy Ben Drew as the East London Al Green. It’s not vintage, but you’d have to be a rather tedious traditionalist to be offended by a record which makes this much of an honest effort. Here are a couple more try-hards by
association with a pair of successfully smile- inflicting covers. We’ve had a bit of a downer on Lightspeed Champion ever since he got involved (professionally) with that Vickers woman, but redemption comes in the form of ‘Til I Die’ (Domino) ●●●●● from the ‘Bye Bye’ EP – a hazy, trance-like cover of The Beach Boys song with an echoing analogue warmth courtesy of Van Dyke Parks’ production. Also from the same stable is Dirty Projectors’ ‘As I Went Out One Morning’ (Domino) ●●●●●, this time a symphony of buzzing guitars and artificial harmonies based on the Bob Dylan song. To Scotland now, and a couple of choice selections from very different genres. First we’ve got Bronto Skylift’s ‘Gameboy’ (white label) ●●●●●, a staccato mash-up of funk timing and metal riffs with the loveable repeated choral line ‘hi-tops on / going out tonight’, and after that to the gently tuneful guitar-based indie of White Heath’s ‘GG’ (Electric Honey) ●●●●●, the encouraging latest offering from Scotland’s favourite college-based record label. Now: in case you’re starting to think that solid
three-starrers constitute a good turn-out (they usually do), let’s introduce you to the two utterly, heart-breakingly magnificent tracks battling (read: gazing frostily at one another over a dry-ice shrouded, neon-lit nightclub) for a place right at the top of our heart. In one arbitrary corner it’s School of Seven Bells with ‘I L U’ (Full Time Hobby) ●●●●●, a shyly- titled ode to love in the style of any dreamy 80s chanteuse you care to mention, not least because of Alejandra Deheza’s rich-like- chocolate-in-bed vocal Kate Bushery. In the other it’s Twin Sister with ‘All Around and Away We Go’ (Double Six) ●●●●●, a mesmerising piece of manufactured pop which comes in like ‘French Kissing . . .’ era Debbie Harry over a slowed-down disco beat and then threatens to pitch overboard into a sea of distorting guitars. Neither deserves to lose, but Twin Sister’s getting Single of the Fortnight anyway. (David Pollock)
66 THE LIST 2–16 Dec 2010
firecrack drums and old- school electro all over ‘Patiently’, and rewire ‘My Patriotism’ as a woozy campfire political mantra. (Nicola Meighan) EXPERIMENTAL ALI ROBERTSON Ludd Quest – Food Fae Other Towns / Usurper and Sticky Foster (both Chocolate Monk) / Brittle Hammer Trio – Opportunity Knocks (Poot) ●●●●●
Three slices of Edinburgh avant-auteur and one half of vocal slapstick duo Usurper Ali Robertson’s collaborative pursuits finds a self-titled soundclash with A-Band absurdist Foster mixing live splutter with soundfiles recorded in Bogota and Edinburgh. The three-way split between Robertson, Peeeseye percussionist Fritz Welch and Muscletusk/Dead Labour Process smash and gab merchant Euan Currie is a live document of some singularly intense variety.
More reflective is Robertson’s solo effort, in which a vocal melding of consonant and vowel sounds and domestic clatter finds Robertson’s own tinnitus making sense of a fading world, as going deaf for a living sounds oddly poignant. (Neil Cooper)
COMEDY ADAM & JOE Song Wars Volume 2 (Dreamboat) ●●●●● Named in an entirely unscientific recent Guardian poll as one of the top six double acts ever (alongside the likes of Vic and Bob and Jen and Dawn), messrs Buxton and Cornish have gleefully held onto the juvenile exuberance that initially made them
so popular back in the late 90s. There are certainly
some laugh-out- embarrassingly-loudly moments here with their musical satires on the gentrification of music festivals and piercing explorations of itchy bums (‘Itchy Bum’). But there’s an over-riding feeling that many of these numbers (particularly their swipes at Baz Luhrmann, Bob Dylan and Kate Nash) were thrashed out in a giggling 10-minute rush of post-liquid lunching. (Brian Donaldson)
INDIE POP GIRLS Broken Dreams Club (Fantasy Trashcan/ Turnstile Music) ●●●●●
Tales of notorious unpredictability, druggy meltdowns, a background in religious cults and a penchant for inappropriate nudity have followed Girls around since they first impressed with 2009 debut Album. And frontman Christopher Owens’ ‘I’m a bit barmy, me’ schtick threatened to overshadow his huge talent for songwriting at times, but Broken Dreams Club seems to herald the beginning of a new era.
They return with a teaser of sorts; a gorgeous six-track mini- album of lushly produced, horn-tinged epics, brooding country ballads, sprawlingly romantic folk freakouts and lyrics so poignant they will break your heart over and over again. The future looks incredibly bright for the San Francisco five- piece. (Camilla Pia)
JAZZ JAY PHELPS Jay Walkin’ (Proper Records) ●●●●●
Many young jazz musicians have been praised or damned for retro tendencies in the last couple of decades, but Jay Phelps (formerly of Empirical) openly embraces a backward- looking perspective on
this debut album as a leader. The Canadian- born trumpeter eschews any fashionable dabbling with hip hop or electronics, and focuses on an old-fashioned swing approach. Just to complete the period feel, he adds corny 40s- style vocals from singer Michael Mwenso, including scatting on ‘Out of the Blue’ and a rendition of Phelps’ paean to motherhood, ‘I Love My Mama’. I could happily do without that one, but there is no shortage of enjoyable and unpretentious jazz blowing here. Phelps is abetted by a fine band, with rising saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, Jonathan Gee’s excellent piano and Gene Calderazzo’s propulsive drumming. (Kenny Mathieson) JAZZ BILLY JENKINS Born Again (And The Religion Is The Blues) (VOTP Records) ●●●●●
Jenkins is a one-off on the UK jazz scene, and continues his rampage through the blues here (it’s his second album this year, following the more jazz-based I Am A Man From Lewisham). The core band here is his Trio Blues Suburbia with hard-hitting organ player Jim Watson and drummer Mike Pickering, with guests thrown in, including singer Carol Grimes and violinist Dylan Bates.
Jenkins’ adaptations of the blues to everyday life in south-east London possess all the hallmarks we have come to expect in his idiosyncratic work, including inimitably skewed guitar solos and quirky where- others-fear-to-tread
lyrics (try ‘I Hate Dogs’ or ‘When the Parents Come to Stay’). (Kenny Mathieson) WORLD TABU LEY ROCHEREAU The Voice of Lightness Vol 2 (Sterns) ●●●●●
World music is as much about back catalogue as innovation and London-based Sterns has a formidable reputation as the pioneer shop and label. In this panoramic collection, bridging 1977–81 and 1983–93, Zaire’s singer-songwriter Ley Rochereau marries seductive lullaby vocals within his orchestra’s rolling filigree guitar and burnished horn riffs. These are the some of
the most sensual sounds on the planet from a man who took a distinguished part in late 1990s Zairean politics. Accompanied by a brilliant booklet telling his story. (Jan Fairley)
WORLD VARIOUS The Sound of Siam (Soundway) ●●●●●
Chris Menist’s intrepid Sound of Siam: The Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz and Molam 1964–75 challenges the African, Latin and European dominated world music market; neatly shifting Deborah Kerr and Yul Bryner King and I images for the sounds of Bangkok bars.
Nineteen varied tracks (‘luk thung’, meaning ‘child of the fields’ is Thailand’s most popular music style, and ‘molam’ is a folk song style from Laos) map an inventive scene fusing rural and urban sounds, while featuring subtle international influences. (Jan Fairley)