GIITTV: Screaming Trees – Dust (Deluxe Re-issue) (Cherry Red)

Unceremoniously labelled “grunge” in the 1990s by critics too quick to categorise everything in neat little filing cabinets, Screaming Trees‘ seventh album, Dust proved all the cynics wrong, grabbed the thesauruses of those who dared to pigeonhole, and rammed them abruptly up their rectums. Quite simply, Dust is a real tour-de-force with little to do with the now somewhat tired genre, and easily stands up as one of the best records of that decade. What’s more, it still sounds splendid some 21 years later.

I doubt I need to say too much about the original album which comprises disc one here. From Barrett Martin’s powerhouse drums on classy opener ‘Halo Of Ashes‘, kind of like a cross between The Queen Is Dead and Ocean Rain era Bunnymen, right through to the phantasmagorical imagery of ‘Gospel Plow‘, Dust is never anything less than an electrifying thrill ride. Not for nothing did a whole procession of rock royalty lend a hand, most notably Benmont Tench of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers and Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready. Clearly, this was an album that resonated with immediate impact.

Allegedly, Peter Buck even went as far as saying it was “way ahead of its time” and he wasn’t wrong. After all, even the slower, more balladic tracks such as ‘Dying Days‘ profoundly kick ass due to the irresistible blues rock swagger that permeates most of the record (a crucial element of Mark Lanegan‘s sound to this day). And if there’s a better album track from the 1990s that never found its way from long player to single than ‘Witness‘, I’m yet to hear it.

Disc Two is made up mostly of B-sides from the era, which is pleasing to me. I’ve often thought this should be a compulsory ingredient when releasing retrospective deluxe editions, for it somewhat sorts the men from the boys, showing up those who flippantly chose to “bung the inferior tracks on the reverse” as opposed to those who lovingly crafted a barrowload of songs and only left them off after agonising that they may perhaps disrupt the album’s flow. Despite the fact that Martin claims, in the sleeve notes, that numbers like ‘Watchpocket Blues‘ and ‘Paperback Bible‘ were “flat, lacking that fiery quality we knew we were capable of“, it is apparent that even their cast-offs are fit for the most cantankerous of kings. Shit that sounds pretentious. Thankfully, that’s something that Screaming Trees never were.

Further bonus tracks are made up of the Trees’ cover of The Youngbloods‘ 1969 belter ‘Darkness Darkness’ from the True Lies soundtrack, and their rousing version of ‘Working Class Hero‘ from a Lennon tribute compilation around the time. These are all but enjoyable curios however – it is no wonder they chose to unleash the beast that is Dust, unblemished, on one disc, for the supplemental material almost pales into insignificance beside it. But then again, so did most artists key work in that decade!

The deluxe version of Dust is out now on Cherry Red.

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GIITTV: Future Islands / Bamboo – Nottingham Rock City, 22/06/2017

Gigs don’t often start with an apology, but the moment he appears on stage, Future Islands charismatic singer Samuel T. Herring is clearly keen to explain why tonight’s show was delayed from early May; it transpires that an appearance on Later…With Jools Holland precluded the band from making their scheduled Nottingham appearance last month. Future Islands, though, know a little about the power of TV. After forming in 2006 and for several years enjoying critical acclaim but a modest profile, a 2014 appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman in the USA launched the band into a whole new league, the extraordinary clip becoming the iconic show’s most-watched performance on YouTube.

This audience, however, is in no mood to bear a grudge and treats the band to a truly rapturous welcome which lasts for the entire show. A treat has already been served up in the shape of support band Bamboo. If you are looking them up, they are not the Filipino rock band, nor are they the 90s outfit who scored chart success with ‘Bamboogie‘, rather they are a mesmerizing group who record for Upset The Rhythm. Bamboo is the brainchild of Nick Carlisle (Peepholes, Don’t Argue) and Rachel Horwood (Trash Kit, Halo Halo), whose live incarnation also includes a drummer and bass player. Their set is largely taken from new album The Dragon Flies Away and is reminiscent of 90s heroes Earwig, with perhaps a dash of Stereolab. Their early performance goes down very well in an already full room.

Make no mistake though, the crowd has been drawn here by the incredible stage presence of Future Islands frontman Samuel T. Herring, who prowls the stage in his trademark manner, turning in a truly staggering performance that surely makes everyone in the room wonder how he can operate at this level of intensity night after night. “This song is for a thousand shows and two thousand nights out on the road”, says Herring before a mighty rendering of recent single ‘Run’, from new album The Far Field, which provides half a dozen or so tracks in a show which draws from the band’s five studio albums.

As Herring ducks and weaves, alternately punching the sky (and himself!) and reaching for the stars, the audience gets ever more feverish, huge roars greeting his every move as he sings and dances as if his life depends on it; Herring seems incapable of giving anything less than complete devotion to his band’s music.

Breakthrough album Singles‘ final track, ‘A Dream Of You And Me’ is wonderful, bass player William Cashion driving the song along, together with keyboard player Gerrit Welmers (and touring drummer Michael Lowry) seemingly happy to be in the considerable shadow of their unique singer. Surprisingly, Herring admits that he was feeling “tired and worried” backstage, but assures the crowd that their reception is giving him the energy he needs.

When that song, ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ comes along towards the end of the set, it is an utterly celebratory moment and takes things up yet another notch, when it seemed impossible to do so.

An, erm, spirited version of ‘Spirit’ brings the show to a close for now, before the band return and play an intro long enough to allow Herring a bit of ‘fresh air’: “I needed a cigarette, I couldn’t breathe!” he advises. It’s one of those encores that seems genuine, rather than pre-planned; Herring informs the audience that “We’ve got one more for you” no less than three times, leading to a five-song finale, including a tender version of early track ‘Little Dreamer’.

No-one here tonight will ever want to miss Future Islands when they next return to these parts. Long may they soar.

 

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GIITTV: Track-By-Track: Port Erin – Ocean Grey

Port Erin are a three-piece band from the Bath area of the West Country. The band is comprised of brothers Reuben Myles Tyghe (vocals and guitar) and Jacob Myles Tyghe (bass) with Cerys Brocklehurst (drums). The trio released their new album, Ocean Grey, last month via legendary UK label Burning Shed, label home to pioneers of progressive rock such as King Crimson and Porcupine Tree. They have kindly penned a Track-by-Track guide to their album’s music and lyrics, read it below:

The Fuzz And All That They Feed

Music: Around 60% of Port Erin tracks that make the final cut have their origins in improvised jams. We first started recording improvs, intended as sketches of what would become Ocean Grey, throughout January – March 2015. ‘The Fuzz’s conception happened in one of those sessions. Once the initial idea was re-learnt and locked down we entered demo/structuring world. We played around with various section ideas, often recording different parts at different studios and dropping them into the track to see how they’d work. This particular track took about a year to craft until we had the final demo, it was the first track we demo recorded for the album. J (bassist) wrote various new chord patterns over the groove shuffle, bending the harmonies around the root – most obvious in the very last stanza/chord progression. Pete Judge’s parts (trumpet) were half written by us, half improvised during the recording session. We spliced different takes of trumpet together, taking particular dashes and placing them in the mix. Hearing that come together in the studio was an all-time session highlight for us. It was a real moment hearing Pete’s stunning sounds going down after a week or so in the studio recording the rhythm tracks.

Lyrics: Throughout the writing of Ocean Grey (and a long time before we had the album title) the migrant crisis had been on our minds. Over 10,000 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea alone during the time it took us to write and record the album; it became the strong, reoccurring theme for the album. It’s easy to become immune to the media’s incessant use of graphic images and ‘shock’ headlines, especially when it’s as frequent as it has been. It’s questioning our roles in the Western world and trying to find a place and understanding in the bigger picture. 

Chaos In The Streets

Music: Another track that emerged from the January – March 2015 sessions. We knew there was great energy within the main chorus hook but couldn’t find a working verse for some months, possibly a year. We tried out various verse ideas (even live for a while) until we scrapped everything we had. At the last writing session before the final demo recording session we finally hit upon the verse groove – as soon as we wrote it, we knew it was right. If it wasn’t for that night the song would have most likely been scrapped. It was a lot of fun to record, as with all the other tracks drums, bass, guitar went down live. There’s a dense mix at points – a total of 5 (Gibson SG, Gibson Firebird, Fender Strat, Fender Telecaster, Fender Acoustic) guitars are in the chorus’ topped with long-standing collaborator Simon William’s mad, cathartic sax squeals.

Lyrics: I had no melody or lyrics (as the new verse chords had just been written) when we got to the final vocal demo session. As a new technique, we looped the verses on playback through headphones for several hours. It helped me block out any distraction and made me totally zone into the music, entering an almost trance-like state to then start writing the words. The lyrics and melody were written in that one afternoon – once the first few words (I started with the chorus) landed and after many more listens, fine tweaks and word swaps, the whole piece was complete. The lyrics are pretty self-explanatory and possibly the most direct I’ve written. Trying to condense the feelings around the world and UK into one song. These are uncertain times and we’re being ‘lead’ by some very dubious characters indeed.

 

Just Like TV

Music: The music for ‘Just Like TV’ wrote itself very quickly. Soon after the release of the previous album (Floating Above The City) we knew where we wanted to take the music. We aimed to move away from the industrial, claustrophobic and dense sounds of Floating and open things up with a broader, more cinematic sound – using space, dynamics and different instruments and sounds for the arrangement layers. This track landed, (again in January – March 2015 sessions), pretty much complete – it had all the elements we were looking for. Making a conscious decision to talk about what kind of tracks we wanted to come from the improvised jams definitely helped with the creation of this piece. Improvising with an intention to get something rather than find something was a new way of thinking for us at that point. It really helped to have a loose idea of what it was we going in for before plugging in and going out to lunch. We re-arranged this track within a matter of hours and were playing it live by early 2016. There are very minimal overdubs as we wanted the space to be further exaggerated and pushed to its limits within the context of a ‘pop’ song.

Lyrics: There are few words! A simple reflection on death; bringing it all closer to home. Thinking about loved ones in their final moments – their thoughts, reflections, fears, memories, hopes. Imagine what the final hours must be like. It’s dealing with and accepting death for what it is, with respect and a notion of curiosity and wonder.

Higher Higher

Music: We are fans of the irregular time signatures, just like loads of great bands out there. We wanted to do our ‘Money’ (Pink Floyd) and create a song based in 7/8 that still had a danceable quality to it. This is one of two songs on the album where the song was written on the guitar first. Prior to full band evening rehearsals, J and I would often get together in the days to prep for the evening’s work. It was during one of these sessions that we wrote the structure and sections of the song. During the final demo sessions, J and I wrote the main brass arrangements. The call and response within the sax and trumpet in the very last stanza was written with J and I sat at the same piano recording in the midi-bass lines, taking one part each. Simon Williams (sax) and Pete Judge (trumpet) improvised over the drone / atmospheric section, again, different little motifs and hooks were taken from alternative takes, splicing together all the little moments of magic.

Lyrics: In juxtaposition to the album’s running theme there needed to be some lyrical positivity in the record, I was determined to keep things light and happy with this track. It’s a song about dealing with regret, ego, fear, sadness, checking in and being real with yourself, accepting who we are as individuals and being happy with it. The lyrical concept came from seeing my daughter’s face whilst flying on a plane for the first time. It’s putting our ‘microscopic’ lives into perspective. When viewing life from outer space our first world problems become very insignificant.


Half-cut Moon

Music: It was hard to re-create and re-capture the feel from the original improv version of ‘Half-cut Moon’. We had the two main sections that made the chorus’, but again a verse pattern was a lot harder to find. We felt we were ‘spoiling’ the track by attempting to make it work it too much. We left the track for some months before we again trying many different grooves before hitting on the final pattern. The saxophone harmonies in the chorus’ made the track for us. Deep and big sounding, simple progressions that have that weight with Simon’s warm, raspy tone. A want of this sound came from a love of the band (discovered early 2015) Morphine. The space and depth in their music was and is a big inspiration to us and this track captured a little of that. It wasn’t until after the album had been mastered did we realise that ‘Half-cut Moon’s main chorus hook has an uncanny resemblance to an unreleased Morphine jam around John Coltrane‘s ‘Seraphic Light’ called ‘Surrealific Light’ that was discovered on a quest to know every track put out by Morphine. Spooky.

Lyrics: All the lyrics for this song were written after the consumption of alcohol, almost as an experiment, in order to get to the crux of the song’s meaning. I wanted to become the woozy character I was playing in the song. The title and chorus came first and the verses were written around it over several months, typically late at night on trains or buses after shows or recording sessions. It’s looking at the fragility of life, how we chance and dare fate and how we get messed up along the way.

Ocean Grey

Music: This is the second song of the album that was written in the classic guitar and vocals down first way. It was fun working an arrangement around a song in that traditional format that we used to work with a lot in the early days. Going into Cerys’ drum patterns, adding/taking away subtle beats, honing the section changes, working additional melodies around the vocals etc. The sounds and swaying movement were us trying to bring the album back to the original theme, sonically. The muted trumpet aiding the continuation of underwater sounds, the long drawn out and broken guitar chords emulating the motion of waves, the slackened off snare being like a kind of mummer etc. The original version had an extended 2mins freak-out at the end of the song, lead by a discordant bass riff with crazed trumpet, sax, guitar bubbling all over.. We may release that somewhere on a future album, but it was too off-the-wall for Ocean Grey. So we made an edit giving the album it’s definitive and sudden finish.

Lyrics: These are the final words about the original theme of the migrant crisis. Trying to imagine what it must be like to be forced to gamble your family, children, friends, money, life away to make a journey that has no guarantee of survival, chancing on a wave. Thanks to seeing Anoushka Shankar perform her album Land of Gold I felt okay about using the subject as a basis for the album. She described her last album as ‘an emotional response’ to the crisis. It was something I grappled with as it’s such a vast, complicated and sad situation. Who am I, in my little world happily surviving in the UK, to sing and write about the demise and suffering of others? Though the doubt soon left after seeing Anoushka’s performance and lead me to write the lyrics for this track shortly after.

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GIITTV: The Magnettes – Ugly Youth (DigSin)

Every girl needs a big sister/auntie/cousin/next door neighbour whose shoes they can admire but aren’t old enough to have. The Magnettes are that young woman in those shoes. Although a trio, co-vocalists Rebecka Digervall and Sanna Kalla occupy much of the limelight, consigning guitarist and keyboard player Tomas Backlund to Chris Lowe-like status in the background.

The Magnettes come with a manifesto: Be who you are and don’t bother about having to be beautiful whilst you do it. Essentially, it’s Naomi Wolf’s argument in ‘The Beauty Myth’ twenty five years ago, one that we’ve moved no closer to. Their debut, Ugly Youth, is the embodiment of this manifesto.

Childhood friends, Swedes Digervall and Kalla have been writing music seriously together since they were fourteen. There are many shots used in their press of them sitting side by side in seemingly endless school photographs. Between them, they have built a philosophy of life strong enough to influence a generation.

The first half of the album focuses on a series of anthems for young women. ‘Killers In A Ghost Town’ is one of a set of messages to young people living in small towns. Think Rotherham. Or Brighouse. It’s about having a good time with your best bud and goading each other on into increasingly bad behaviour, ‘Let’s get drunk to Bikini Kill’. It’s about throwing out the sexual double standard that I can’t believe we’re even still talking about in 2017. ‘So Bad’ is more plaintive, the lilting vocal and the piano accompaniment offset the acidity of some of the lyrics, ‘I chew you up, I spit you out.’

The single ‘Sad Girls Club’ is The Magnettes’s ‘Wannabe’. It is precisely the song to sing in the playground to intimidate boys. Run, jump, cry, whatever you want. Accompany with black spiky pom poms. The Magnettes are cheerleaders in twelve hole DMs and sneers. This song is full of anarchic joie de vivre. We are ‘sad girls, we don’t want no fun’ it declaims, whilst simultaneously having lots of fun.

Along the same lines are ‘Cheering’ which explains how to get revenge on boys who pull your hair and ‘Ugly’ which seeks to redefine how girls view themselves. It’s big and important stuff. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to see eight year olds distressing the princess costumes and torching all the pink shit in department stores?

The final third of the album moves into more adult territory. ‘Pajala State Of Mind’ is The Magnettes’s version of a folk song, albeit with modern lyrics. It is acoustic and in waltz time. ‘Lovers Losers’ is a brilliant pop track, a love song of total equality and would make a fine single. Whereas ‘Young And Wild’ has a full stadium chorus with Digervall and Kalla singing like two St Trinians.

It feels like the apathy has lifted. Patriarchy-crushing pop for daughters everywhere.

Ugly Youth will be released on 30th June 2017 through DigSin.

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Owen Jones: Glastonbury is more evidence: Corbyn could be on the cusp of power | Owen Jones

The Labour leader has proved his critics wrong. Far from having a narrow support base, he appeals to working-class and middle-class voters alike

The left will never win over the middle class, or so the argument used to go: now the left is accused of winning over too many middle-class voters. Four in 10 British voters opted for Labour’s most leftwing manifesto since 1983. That socialist ideas could attract such support – and leave Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour with a “straightforward” path to victory, according to psephologist John Curtice – is in defiance of political gravity. At least, that’s the belief of those who base their entire political creed on the idea that leftwing policies will invite only electoral Armageddon. And so arrives the argument that the Labour voters who delivered a historic upset were the wrong voters: too affluent, too middle class. But socialism offers emancipation for middle class and working class alike: indeed, that is Labour’s only possible winning electoral coalition.

Related: ‘It’s bloody brilliant!’ Michael Eavis on bringing Jeremy Corbyn to Glastonbury

Labour took the Battersea seat after promising to ask high earners to pay more tax

Continue reading…

GIITTV: NEWS: Ariel Pink announces new album

3 years on since his most recent solo offering, Ariel Pink reveals details about Dedicated to Bobby Jameson, his latest full length album. Set to be released on 15th September, the album is an ode to a reclusive LA musician, and  charts his life as “he seesaws his way between the innocent love and the rock-solid edifice of childhood-worn trauma that together constitute his lifelong initiation into the realm of artifice and theatrical disposability,” as Pink explains.

Alongside the announcement, Pink debuts Another Weekend, the lead single and video for the album. Directed by Grant Singer, the video depicts a cowboy hat wearing Pink as a relic of a lost time, rendered in glorious low-fidelity. You can view the video below. Dedicated to Bobby Jameson will be released by Brooklyn-based independent label Mexican Summer.

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GIITTV: Track Of The Day #1038: Nova Twins – Thelma and Louise

 

London-based Nova Twins are going from strength to strength. In their new video for ‘Thelma and Louise’, the duo are seen with their very own girl gang as they pay tribute to the characters from the classic feminist film of the same name.  The song, which premiered on French website Jack is in keeping with their usual cutting-edge bass-driven sound and attitude-laden vocals.

The band’s distinct style has attracted a lot of attention both in the UK and internationally.  They’ve opened for artists as diverse as Kate Nash and Ho99o9, as well as recently touring France and even playing in South Africa and Reunion.  The pair have also been busy setting up their own custom clothing line called Bad Stitches.  Nova Twins have so far released their debut self-titled EP last year and fans eagerly await more recorded material and tour dates from them.

Photo credit: Marieke Macklon

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