Thursday, December 24, 2009

Rough Trade December 2009 Pack

Here's what I received in my pre Christmas Album Pack :

Blakroc - Self-titled + the album in instrumental form - 8/10 - Please more hip hop in the future!!

Matias Aguay - Ay AY Ay - 9/10 Minimal techno meets human beat boxing original and melodic.

Memory Tapes - Seek Magic - 9/10 Unfortunately I already have this one - ah well

Next month's core album will be These New Puritan's Hidden. Can't wait!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rough Trade Album Club November 2009 Pack

Well another month and another sterling three cds - well in a way it's two but let me go on.

Local Natives - Gorilla Manor - 10/10 man just what the doctor ordered. It's like every great American alt band all rolled up into one group.

Portico quartet - Isla - 8/10 my first foray into jazz. This is why I joined the club. I would have never even thought of buying this.

Dead Man's Bones - Self-titled - 8.5/10 - boo i already bought this a month ago so I decided to treat myself and I bought Hudson's Mohawke's Butter - we'll see!

As for the December - I already know that the core is Blackrok - let's see what the remaining two are!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rough Trade Album Club October 2009 Pack

What a month! Three cds of pure goodness!

Atlas Sound - Logos - 10/10 + bonus 6 track cd
A Place to Bury Strangers - The Exploding Head - 9/10
Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport - 10/10

my ears are in heaven!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rough Trade Album Club September 2009 Pack

Another strong month. It seems that this month's pack is quite ethnic:

The Very Best - Warm Heart of Africa + Bonus Mixtape - I would rate the album a 9/10 but the mixtape is a masterpiece and gets a full on 10/10

Taken By Trees - East of Eden - 9/10. A very beautiful album. Victoria Bergsman went to Pakistan and recorded this album there using traditional instruments.

Amanda Blank - I Love You - 8/10 Bitchfork (mistake intentional) gave this 2.0 - IGNORE. If you're a fan of Diplo/Switch/M.I.A./ Santigold and so on this album is for you. Favela funk meets hip house.

Well that's my next three weeks sorted. Africa Pakistan and Brazil. A global treat if there was one.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rough Trade Album Club - August 2009 Pack

Needless to say that the guys @ RT have done it again and sent one excellent package

The xx - xx + bonus 3 track cd - 10/10 perfect fantastic - must have

Wild Beasts - Two Dancers - 9/10 - I already liked these guys debut and this follow up is even better!

She Keeps Bees - Nests + Bonus 10 track cd - 8/10 very good raw blues.

Happy? I sure am!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Album Club - July Pack

As the club sends a new package every four weeks, I receive 13 packs July was the month where two were sent out.

What a month! I've been truly spoilt for riches.

Riceboy Sleeps - Self-titled + a first class bonus cd of the band's influences - 9/10. I have to admit that it's a night record though.

Major Lazer - Guns don't Kill People, Lazers do + quite good bonus cd of remixes - 9/10 - furious dancehall from diplo and Switch

Tinariwen - Imidiwan : Companions + an interesting 30 min documentary on the making of the album and Tuareg life. 9.5/10

fantastic - im very happy!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Album Club - July Pack

Again I cannot complain - The club's been good to me

White Denim - Fits + Mix from the band - 9/10
Tony Allen - Secret Agent - 9/10
Miles Bnejamin ANthony Robinson - Self-titled - 9/10 - however I bought this one already from the rough trade shops so I found it only fair to exchange it for

Valerie & Friends - a compilation of new french electronic artists

I'm happy!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rough Trade Album Club - June Pack

After May's slightly weak selection I was pleased to see that June's package compensated me well. As I hoped Veckatimest was the core album and that definitely made my day. Here's what I got :

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest + 4 track CD - 9/10
Joker's Daughter - The Last Laugh - 9/10 - Marvellous stuff
Sleepy Sun - Embrace- 8/10 - A grower, In a month's time I'll appreciate this more. I find slightly heavier albums a bit difficult to take in at once.

I'm hoping that The Emperor Machine will feature in July's package - you never know!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rough Trade Album Club - May Pack

So this month's selection is not as strong as the previous 4 months but I am pleased

The Horrors - Primary Colours + mixtape compiled by the band - 8.5/10 - considering that I thought that their debut was boring, this comes as a nice surprise.

The Felice Brothers - Yonder is the Clock - Last year I received the debut by these Dylanesque folkies and I liked it although I thought it was overlong. This is much better. They definitely will have a classic album in them in the near future - 8/10

Sweet Billy Pilgrim - Twice Born Men - for me this is what the album club is about - discovering these treats. I would have never bought this on a whim. In essence it's laptoptronica but oddly catchy - 8/10

I am hoping that Veckatimest will feature in the June pack

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rough Trade Album Club - April Pack

My fourth pack of the year and the consistency is still high! Here are my treats :

Fever Ray - Self-titled + Three track remix cd 10/10
Terry Lynn - Kingstonlogic 2.0 - 10/10
The Whitest Boy Alive - Rules - 8/10

Great Great stuff! What will I get in May???

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Album Review - The Boy Least Likely to

The Boy Least Likely to - The Law of the Playground (2009)
Too Young to Die

TBLLT's debut, The Best Party Ever was one of the most whimsical releases of 2005, if not of the '00's however it seriously lacked energetic tracks in order to make it fully enjoyable.

Thankfully after a long four year wait the band are back and dutifully they have remedied every glitch that their debut contained. Not only do the songs sound more confident but at the same time there's a certain bounciness which there really was before, or at least was used sparingly (at the moment Be Gentle with me, papercuts and Warm Panda Cola come to mind). Also the songs have more orchestration (The Boy Least Likely to is a Machine. although basically every track has it's own type of flourish) which makes them more full.

Mind you there are some things which do not change and Jof Owen's penchant for writing twee lyrics, he still is the shy, child-like, slightly bumbling dreamer that he protrayed in 'The Best Party Ever' but there is absolutely nothing wrong with this as it provides a nice contrast with the record's upbeat feel.

It is also an instantly likeable album. There is a certain immediacy that makes you want to embrace the record in a split second. True it is cute and cuddly but it also danceable as seen in 'Balloon on a Broken String' or 'I Box up all the Butterflies' and there's quite a few anthems in Law of the Playground. Opener 'Saddle up' will instantly make one pay attention. Standout I keep Myself to Myself should be used as the official theme song for some edition of the Indie Pop Olympics and 'When Life Gives Lemons I make Lemonade' will make you salute to the sky.

Despite the long duration of The Law of The Playground, TBLLT have managed to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump and come up trumps with stronger album. In the track Stringing up Conkers' there's quote which sums up the band's oeuvre

I just want to change the world in whatever little way I can

with two good albums under their belts they'll soon achieve world domination....soon

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rough Trade Album Club - March Pack

I've been a member of this club for three years now but I have to admit that so far i've been going gaga over past few packs. March was definitely no exception. Here's what I got

The Low Anthem - Oh my God Charlie Darwin - 9/10
The Boy Least Likely to - The Law of the Playground + bonus cd of rarities 10/10
Joe Gideon and the Shark - Harum Scarum 8/10 - I was surprised with this one.

just fantastic.

roll on April!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rough Trade Album Club - February Pack

Andrew Bird - Noble Beast + 9 track live in Montreal Disc - 10/10
Dirty Stop Out - Cuntro Classics - 7/10
Harmonic 313 - When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence - 9/10

Second great month in a row!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Album Review - Counter Culture '08

Various Artists - Rough Trade Shops - Counter Culture '08 (2009)

I'm sorry I couldn't find a picture - or at least on I could use legally.

After many years of denying it, I will grudgingly admit that I am am a hipster. Nothing gets me fired up than listening to new bands, especially ones that hit the big time, or grow out of their cult audience. In fact just to double check myself I went to wikipedia and looked up the definition.

A Hipster is a slang term which appeared in the late 1990's and 2000's, the term is used to describe young, urban middle class and upper class adults with interests in non-mainstream fashion and culture, particularly alternative music, independent rock, independent film, magazines like Vice, Clash and Adbusters, and websites like Pitchfork Media.[1] In some contexts, hipsters are also referred to as scenesters.

I am 30 years old - is that young?
I am a Librarian - I assume that's a middle class profession.
I like alt and indie films.
Mag-wise I read Plan B.
I visit p-fork everyday.

I guess I qualify.

One ritual that I have which makes me on the top of my game is my annual purchase of the annual Rough Trade Compilation, punningly called Counter Culture. I have started buying these compilations when the first one was released back in 2003 and I have looked forward to this quintessential double compilation. Rough Trade Shops have been tastemakers and genre predictors since it's inception 33 years ago and it still continues that tradition today. Trust me if you want to listen to what will be in vogue in two years time do invest in this. If you like to to challenge your ears and change your view of music, well then come on in for the ride. You will get tracks released from album released in the previous year but Rough Trade, being who they are focus on the tinier releases in their shops while occaisonally mixing in some big names in the process.

However as these compilations represent the current musical climate, it usually suffers when there is a poor year. Luckily 2008 was very good music-wise so the standard of the compilation is quite high.

Disc One, is dedicated to the quieter side of music. The whole tone of the album is set with Department of Eagles woozy 'Calssical Records' and there onwards it's more folk ( Bon Iver, Festival) indie pop (Vivian Girls, The School, The High Places) and then some spacey electronica (Zombie Zombie). Well sequenced and beautifully flowing, it is the sightly better disc of the album and has more upfront tunes.

Things take a different turn on disc two as the more experimental and loud songs dominate. This year it seems that dubstep has taken over as the latter half of the disc has a spattering of tracks. Elsewhere thare's hip hop (Yo majesty, Tobacco) the droney Indian Jewelry and some brash guitar pop in the form of Correcto and The Pains of Being Pure of Heart. There are tons of highlights but it's The Shitty Limits track which I cannot stop listening to.

I can't help heaping praising upon this compilation. As with the rest it's a sterling effort and despite being a sampling of a year, it is timeless.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Album Review - Animal Collective

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)

It is always exciting when a generally 'uncommercial' band flirts with pop techniques and structures and funnily enough it brings out the best in them as well, Tv on the Radio, Deerhoof, Gang Gang Dance have all had (or are going through) a pop phase and as a result are becoming critical darlings.

To be fair Baltimore's Animal Collective have always had, at least, one hugely ear friendly song on each album. Be it 'Shippi', 'Who could win a Rabbit' , 'Grass' or 'Peacebone' there is that one track that makes listeners wonder what would happen if the band themselves would release a record which would contain more of those big tunes.

On their eigth album, Merriweather Post Pavilion' Animal Collective have finally showed the world what they could do if they record an album with memorable tunes and this may be their biggest album yet and propel them from the underground.

In essence 'Merriweather ...' is a progression from 2007's superb 'Strawberry Jam' However it is more shiney, shimmery and happier sounding. The group have been compared to the Beach Boys during their 'Pet Sounds' era and now this tag will stick more for this current record carries the same transcendental pop torch. As a warning this album is not the equivalent of some mega sellout but it displays a side of Animal Collective that they have only revealed sporadically.

With songs like 'My Girls' , 'Summertime Clothes' and closer' 'Brother Sport' the band have discovered a newfound love for more prominent danceable beats. In fact the aforementione Brother Sport echoes early nineties rave music and will be a track some big name djs would love to remix and if released as a single will take clubs by storm. Another thing I noticed is that their sense of beauty is used more, I constantly have images of lovers canoodling to 'Bluish' or 'In the Flowers'

It is not a total departure though. Those echoey spacey bits still feature (although Avey Tare's traditional yelping is mysteriously subdued), voices are still in harmony and the ability to chuck in a sound effect that startles or tickles the ears hasn't diminished either and that Jew Harp in 'Lion in a Coma' is a case in point.

'Merriweather Post Pavilion' is a perfect album from beginning to end and my inner critic is dying to find at least one fault with the whole thing but there isn't. Each song has an underlying magic which reveals itself from the second you press the play button. Also it's arrived 12 days into the new year and has established itself as the first big hit of 2009 and probably one of the biggest summer albums in the long run as well.

Animal Collective constantly evolve as a band and are already previewing tracks from album number nine on tours so where they go next is anybody's question but it way too early to be discussing such matters.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rough Trade Album Club - January Pack

This month we were spoiled rotten and all ten cd's were of a very high quality. Here's what I got :

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion + Free mix compiled by the band - 10/10

Telepathe - Dance Mother + Plus a very schizophrenic mix the band put together - 10/10

Solid Gold - Bodies of Water - 9/10

An incredibly satisfactory selection :) :)