GIITTV: Horse Party – Horizons (R*E*P*E*A*T Records)

Having been a huge fan of Leicester City Football Club for many, many years, this season, for me and all other Foxes fans, has been somewhat surreal, with my team at the time of writing presently sitting at the top of the Premier League, astonishingly with a chance of winning the thing.  For the vast majority of the last 15 years, I am far more accustomed to crushing disappointment.  One of the most excruciating seasons was the last time the team managed to ascend to the top flight back in 2003/4.  That season, Leicester City started many matches well, scored a few outstanding goals and looked as though they would run out the winners.  Then the last five minutes came and, instead of seeing the match out, my team chose to self-destruct and throw game after game away right at the death.

This is how I feel about the new Horse Party album, Horizons.

Nine tracks in, we’ve been carried away on a whirlwind of savagely brilliant tunes like the filthy fuzz of ‘Paydirt‘, the sumptuous ‘What I’d Do‘, which sounds something akin to how Fleetwood Mac would have panned out if they had signed to 4AD or the delightful opener, ‘Out Of Sight‘, which has the requisite blend of jangly pop and alternative rock to pitch its tent in the same arena as Belly.  The problem only arises in Horizons‘ final quarter, not that there is necessarily anything wrong with the four songs that close it – they are pleasant enough after all – but they do lack that breathtaking energy that makes Horse Party such an exciting proposition in the first place, and I suspect that anybody making a “Best Of” compilation of the band’s work would see this as something of a fallow area.

Vocal duties are shared from the outset between frontwoman Ellie Langley and multi-instrumentalist Seymour Quigley, the latter taking centre stage on both the title track and the superb ‘Receiver‘, featuring some splendid lyrics (this is an aspect of Horse Party that NEVER disappoints) such as “When I was on the road to recovery/I was the eyes of a perfect storm/Staring all things down/As the oceans raged right in front of me.”  A lot of the songs herein seem to suggest a certain loneliness; a feeling of being trapped and then breaking free, either from a tired, strained relationship, from that low paid, soul destroying job, or from real life itself through whatever means, legal or otherwise.  Perhaps that is where the title comes from – new horizons, after all, are what everyone is ultimately striving for, right?

Who knows?  Maybe on my own personal horizon there will come a day soon on which those final four songs will click for me.  As it stands, they’ve turned what was almost an incredible album into merely a good one.

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GIITTV: NEWS: Sound City 2016 reveals more music names and In Conversation stage line up

Dates: 28th – 29th May 2016
Location: Liverpool, Bramley-Moore Dock

Liverpool Sound City may have slimmed down to a two-day event, but this year’s bill is certainly not short on entertainment and musical surprises. First up, the Libertine’s co-frontman and tabloid papers’ favourite Pete Doherty is revealed to headline The North Stage on Sunday.

Added to the Atlantic Stage is former Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones, Mercury-nominated indie-folkster C Duncan, pop absurdists Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, upcoming indie daydreamer Kyko, Welsh songwriter The Anchoress, flamboyant French/Arabic rockers Temenik Electric and New Yorker singer/songwriter Norma Jean Martine.

Sound City is also proud to announce the first names appearing on the In Conversation with Radio X stage. Hosted by Radio X’s new music champion and Xposure presenter John Kennedy and DJ, author and interviewer of the cognoscenti Dave Haslam, the In Conversation stage will be illuminated by some of the leading lights in the entertainment world including indie-rockers Circa Waves, mulit-award winning actor, director and musician Paddy Considine, post-electro-punk agitators Sleaford Mods, left wing legend Alexei Sayle, singer, songwriter, poet, muse and fashionista Roisin Murphy and many more to be announced in the coming weeks.

Tickets for Sound City 2016 are now on sale at http://ift.tt/xPU8jA.

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Owen Jones: Daniel Hannan MEP: ‘EU referendum is a once-in-a-generation vote’ – video interview

Eurosceptic Tory MEP Daniel Hannan has made it his life’s work to campaign to get Britain out of the European Union. But he tells Owen Jones that the EU referendum on 23 June could be a once-in-a-generation chance – and if there is a decisive vote to remain, he will accept the views of the British public

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GIITTV: iamthemorning – Lighthouse (Kscope)

Built around the permanent nucleus of pianist Gleb Kolyadin and singer Marjana Semkina, for their third album Lighthouse the Russian duo iamthemorniong enlist the services of a number of guest musicians – drummer Gavin Harrison, who features in the latest incarnation of King Crimson, bass guitarist Colin Edwin from fellow British prog rockers Porcupine Tree and additional vocals on the album’s magnificent centrepiece and title track from Mariusz Duda of Lunatic Soul and Riverside fame. Together they explore the outer limits of iamthemorning’s definitive progressive chamber music.

Whilst echoes of epic early 70’s progressive rock music – all shifting tempos, ascending rhythms, swirling mellotrons and jagged guitars – can occasionally be detected on tracks such as ‘Too Many Years’ and ‘Harmony’, iamthemorning jettison much of that decade’s bombast and bravura in favour of something that is altogether more reflective.  And they achieve this most delicate sleight of hand through the perfect union of piano and voice.

The former is steeped in the greatest classical tradition. On Lighthouse, Kolyadin’s grand piano was recorded in Mosfilm Studios Moscow, the largest and oldest such location in Russia where soundtracks for some of the most famous of Soviet-era films were recorded. The latter is an expressive instrument that vacillates somewhere between that of Kate Bush, Charlotte Church and Tori Amos; a febrile counterpoint to the piano that captures perfectly a wide range of often conflicting emotions from ecstasy to despair.

The tenderness and eloquence inherent in Marjana Semkina’s voice lends an even greater emotional heft to the album’s central narrative, the chronicle of an individual experience of mental illness. Inspired in part by David Bowie‘s ‘Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)’ – taken from his valedictory album Blackstar – the sombre darkness of ‘Chalk and Coal’ reflects that particular journey’s tragic end. And with it, the song also signals the existential freedom that this powerful and most moving of records contains.

Lighthouse is released on 1st April 2016 through Kscope Records.

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GIITTV: VIDEO: Adam Stafford – Phantom Billions

The never dull and hugely talented artist that is Adam Stafford has released a video for ‘Phantom Billions’, a track taken from his new album Taser Revelations, available right now on Song, By Toad.  Adam himself was heavily involved in the making of the video and, as you can see, his efforts clearly paid off.

It is both entertaining, jarring as well as very telling of the obsession with money and power that society seems to have these days, perhaps even more than ever.  His eyes are closed with painted on open eyes throughout the video, perhaps not so subtly suggesting the actions of those very same people who control the money and the power.  Whatever the reason behind it, it’s a powerful message nonetheless.

Photo credit: David P. Scott

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GIITTV: Pet Shop Boys – Super (x2)

Pet Shop Boys‘ 2012 release, Elysium, was greeted with a muted reaction from critics and fans. Neil Tennant has since said he thinks people have an idea of what a Pet Shop Boys record should be and that wasn’t it. Elysium’s failure was down to them not sounding invested in their own material. When they followed it up with Electric eight months later, it was a relief to hear them sound vital again. It was their strongest record in 20 years.

Stuart Price was a natural fit as Electric’s producer – he brought back a sense of energy that Elysium lacked. He’s back for the confidently titled Super. Tennant has said every Pet Shop Boys record has been a reaction against the previous one. Super isn’t a reaction against Electric, as Price’s return means sonically they are similar records.

Lead single, ‘The Pop Kids’, contains all the elements that make Pet Shop Boys a unique band. Tennant is in reflective mode as he reminisces about his passion for music and his youth in the club scene. His tone recalls the wistful melancholy of their autumnal masterpiece, Behaviour. Tennant’s sombre tone is set against a 90s house piano for the chorus and his delivery of, “I loved you” provides an emotional touch. There’s a brilliant callback to ‘Can You Forgive Her’s lyrics, “she made fun of you because you danced to disco and you don’t like rock”, when Tennant sings, “we were young, but imagined we were so sophisticated, telling everyone we knew that rock was overrated”.

Super opens with the jubilant, ‘Happiness’ which shows that 30 years into their career, Pet Shop Boys still know how to surprise. A bouncing techno beat starts before giving way to an infectious country-tinged chorus. Tennant sings, “It’s a long way to happiness, a long way to go, but I’m gonna get there boy, the only way I know”, accompanied by honky-tonk piano. Its upbeat nature is a curious juxtaposition to the beautifully downbeat following song, ‘Pop Kids’.

The mixture of styles continues throughout Super. ‘Undertow’ echoes New Order and boasts one of Super’s most beautiful melodies. ‘Twenty-Something’ is the most accessible song here, with its colourful synths and hopping rhythm. The buzz single, ‘Inner Sanctum’, comes alive in the context of the album. The deep bassline and moody atmospherics are reminiscent of Electric’s Patrick Cowley-influenced opener, ‘Axis’. It has a climax that almost turns into Energy 52’s 90s dance anthem, ‘Cafe Del Mar’. ‘Burn’ has a Moroder like bassline and synths that could turn into Pet Shop Boys’ early B-side, ‘In The Night’.

The Dictator Decides’ provides Super’s most dramatic song, lyrically and musically. The keyboards and strings they use are reminiscent of late 70s disco, which is a common musical theme here. The lyrics are their most overtly political since 2006’s ‘I’m With Stupid’ with Tennant singing, “of course I’m in league with the army, it’s not like I’ve got any choice, they officially adore me, my father before me but gunpoint has its own voice”. Lowe uses a military sounds to emphasize the dark theme.

Pet Shop Boys have never had a problem showing their playful side, which is present on Super’s only weak songs. ‘Groovy’ would be suited as a B-side with its throwaway chorus and grating use of crowd noises. ‘Pazzo!’ is catchy but sounds like a demo that needed to be fleshed out.

Electric’s strengths were amplified by containing just nine songs, all of which felt essential. If they’d applied that same kind of editing to Super, it could be a truly great Pet Shop Boys record. As it is, Super is a very good record that’s as varied and inspired as they’ve ever been. For a band that sounded so tired in 2012, their continued rejuvenation is welcome.

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GIITTV: WIN: A Year’s Subscription to the Too Pure Singles Club

To celebrate the Too Pure Singles Clubs‘ one hundredth release ‘Paul Draper’ this April and the Record Store Day LP Pay No Attention God Is In The TV has a competition to win a year’s subscription to the Too Pure Singles Club.

Simply share or retweet this page to be in with a chance of winning, the winner will receive every release this year and will be informed on 16th April 2016, Record Store Day itself.

Here’s what Too Pure have released this year and what’s still to come:

January – Chupa Cabra
Febuary – Fruit Bomb
March -Cowtown
April – Paul Draper
May – Grim Brides
June – False Advertising
July – Seazoo

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Too Pure are releasing a pink vinyl compilation entitled Pay no Attention for this year’s record store day featuring fourteen choice Too Pure singles club favourites including releases by Hookworms, The Lovely Eggs and The Lucid Dream.

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GIITTV: VIDEO PREMIERE: Eric Taylor Escudero – We Were Young and It Was Morning

We have the premiere of Brazilian born Eric Taylor Escudero’s new video for ‘We Were Young and It Was Morning Part One‘ the title track from his recently released album. Its a harmonica-flecked Americana strum-along whose rippling narrative and wistful harmonies is reminiscent of Darren Hayman, mid-period Bright Eyes and Bruce Springsteen

“Eric’s eleven track debut album, We Were Young And It Was Morning, reflects his emotionality, incorporating themes of love, loss, nostalgia and the difficulties of living modern city life. The album has a predominantly traditional folk feel and uses a diverse range of instruments such as the harmonica, mandolin, guitar, concertina, glockenspiel and violin, allowing Eric to experiment with arrangements, creating wistful, immersive folk music”

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Owen Jones: Is Cameron proud of Zac Goldsmith’s toxic mayoral campaign in the capital? | Owen Jones

The tactics employed to attack Labour’s poll lead are ugly and divisive. The prime minister should condemn this skulduggery – instead, he is part of it

Zac Goldsmith was the Tory even certain lefties had a guilty soft spot for. He was the apparently environment-friendly former editor of the Ecologist who threatened to` resign if the government approved a third runway at Heathrow. Principled, it seemed, and generally decent.

That Zac Goldsmith is no more, his reputation tattered by his own desperation for power. In his bid to become London’s mayor, Goldsmith is running a dirty campaign of smear, innuendo and divide-and-rule – and in doing so, he reveals the depths to which the Conservative party is willing to plunge to secure power.

Related: Zac Goldsmith’s fight to be London mayor: ‘I’m up against someone who poses a real danger’

Still high from their surprise electoral victory, the Tories believe the politics of fear has a proven track record

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