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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Hepburns - The Last Thing I Saw Before I Said Goodbye


At the end of the eighties, a little known gem of an album appeared, 'The Magic Of The Hepburns'. Apart from a couple of singles and an unreleased album ('Road Movie' that The Hepburns sent me on cassette - just sense that smug little self-satisfied grin) they dropped off the radar, well, not that they were ever on it really.

From time to time, I look up groups that I used to like. Nine times out of ten, you can't find them anywhere on the internet or they've done nothing else (indie popsters Bob spring to mind). But this one time, this one time, I completely geeked out because the Welsh Wonders have been busy beavering away on album after album. I instantly bought all of them and with baited breath waited for my first new instalment of Hepburns magic. Feel the sparkle.

It was well worth the wait. 'The Last Thing I Saw Before I Said Goodbye' is another classic album. The best way to enjoy it is to don your blouson style jacket (tan never black), pour yourself a martini and settle back for some John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Burt Bacharach inspired pop tunes. One of them wouldn't be out of place as a club style song on 'Shooting Stars'. Even the little booklet that comes with the CD is funny, with a quality comparison of afros and german helmet haircuts. Excellent stuff.


Sunday, 27 January 2013

Celldweller - Light from a Black Star

After finding 'In Silico' hard work recently, I didn't really have high hopes for another dose of genre blurring progressive rock. It sounds like a bad idea, the cover looks pretentious, but astonishingly it's one of my favourite albums of the year.

So why does Celldweller succeed where Pendulum's output was such a clashing mish-mash of musical styles? Celldweller's head honcho, Scott Albert, manages to keep the recipe simple and uses quality ingredients. This sprawling concept album sounds like a cross between Muse, The Infected Mushrooms and video game soundtracks, with inspired lyrics thrown in for good measure. There's not a hint of The Mars Volta either, which is always a bonus.     

It's a refreshing album on so many levels. Initially it's accessible pop rock with a dub-steppy edge, but at the same time it's philosophical progressive art rock with Sci-Fi overtones that dwarf ELO and the Orb's meagre space based rock operas. This is rock music sprinkled with orchestral classicism in an similar vein to the Mushroom's take on techno, and Mr. Albert clearly knows his musical onions.

Every track is a winner, but 'Unshakeable', 'Blackstar' and 'Birthright' are all worthy of special mentions. 'Eon' however is just one of the tracks of the year; a storming assault on the senses akin to being force fed gorgeous cereal bars in a Las Vegas casino while showering in Theakston's Old Peculiar.

It's a different slant on the rock template and the fact that I've even mentioned it in the same breath as Infected Mushroom says it all. A cracking album that appeals to our shallowest senses and deepest emotions. Highly recommended.  

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Princess Chelsea - Your Woman


Pick of the Week 25 - Princess Chelsea

The perfect way to start a new year of 'Pick of the Weeks' is this session based recording of our favourite New Zealander Princess Chelsea. It's a cover of the old White Town song, but Chelsea quirks it up with the downtempo backing, lots of expert xylophone tinkling and a generous helping of that voice. It's a great video clip as well, with lots of extreme close ups of xylophoning, Chelsea's headphoned profile and the moustachioed base player who provides hope for all middle aged men that they too could still be in a band one day. The last thirty seconds is pure magic and I could listen to it on a loop forever.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Evlkeith's Freebies (1) - Acoustic

My regular trawls through the free download section on have led to the discovery of several gems: The Pocketbooks, Sabrepulse, Nocao de Nada and of course the sublime She, who have all gone on to bigger and better things. Now due to a certain lack of skintness this year, I have decided to embark on a dangerous and perilous journey. To find the next generation of Stadium-Packing Superstars.

Once every four weeks I will search through the free downloads for a particular genre and find some tracks that I fancy listening to. (Luckily, there are exactly 26 genres on their list, so it will take me a couple of years to get through them all.)Then I'll spend some time whittling this list down to five, that will be recommended for your listening pleasure. (I'll put a link on each band name that will take you automatically to the page so that you can partake in further research, if you can really be bothered.) Some of the artists may have produced albums and some may have only recorded one song. They will be chosen purely on the strength of the track that I've downloaded. You never know, we may discover the next Karl Denver.

So, to kick us off, I delved into the Acoustic section. These are my findings (in no particular order):

1. This Girl - She Tells Lies - The Beautiful Confusion.

2. It's You - Sundae Sunday - It's You (Single)

3. Mindbreak - Flume

4. Broken Dreams - Sloppy Folk - Some Anti-Folk... 

5. Suburban Hymn - Alp - Alp



Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Doccortex's Festive 50 2012 (10-1)

10. Bob Mould - The Breach
A more mellow Bob churns out a low key classic ideal for holiday listening.

9. Hekla Stalstenga - Mannen og Kona
It's difficult to think of anything better than an attractive, Scandinavian, ginger witch singing a lovely song.


8. The Black Keys - Little Black Submarines
Great song, great band and so much better than the Foo Fighters.


7. Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton - Crowd Surf Off a Cliff
Downtempo, thought provoking ditty from Metric's vocal superstar.


6. The Shins - Sealegs
James Mercer servers up the usual slice of  subtle and sublime song writing. Sung in his own language of course.


5. Pocketbooks -  Harbour Lights
Pocketbooks push the twee angle to new limits in this joyous moment from Carousel.


4. First Aid Kit - Winter is Over
There's a real beauty in the Soderberg sisters' classically folky acoustic ditties 


3. Bloody Beach - Gonzo Blues
A perfect two minute pop song from Australasia. Milk lovers will love the video.


2. Caitlin Rose - Sinful Wishing Well
Caitlin does it again with a repeat of  last year's second place. Piledriver Walz was also a favourite.


1. Celldweller - Eon
Genre blurring prog rock anthem from my favourite album of the year; Wish Upon a Black Star.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Doccortex's Festive 50 2012 (20-11)

20. Feist - Inside and Out
Feist serves up a soulful eighties style cover of the Bee Gees. Smooth.

19. La Bottine Souriante - Mon PereBonkers French interpretation of popular music. Strangely addictive.

18. I Wrestled a Bear Once - You know that ain't them dogs real voices
The standout song from Into the Valley's adopted Screamo favourites.

17. Princess Chelsea - The Cigarette Duet
Perhaps too low in the chart, but maybe I've heard it too many times this year.

16. Noel Gallagher - AKA Broken Arrow
Not all wilfully obscure stuff. A coherent piece of folk rock from former Oasis leader.

15. Lucia - Silence
Beautiful, haunting and delicate music from the elfin Romanian.

14. Betty and the Werewolves - David Cassidy
Top twee indie action from the brilliantly named combo.

13. Mesh - You didn't want me
Former favs come up trumps again with atmospheric synth-pop stormer.

12. Erasure - A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot
Vince proves he can still cut it in the 21st Century with a camptastic dancefloor filling anthem.

11. Foxes - Youth
Poses more question than it answers, but a philosophical gem nonetheless.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Doccortex's Festive 50 2012 (30-21)

30. Gabriel Aplin - Home
Tiny little pixie Gabriel features in pick of the week with this song and the next thing you know she's got the Christmas number 1. She owes us an interview.

29. Kiran Ahluwalia - Musst Musst
It's basically Tinariwen with beautiful African vocals. Gorgeous!

 28 Joolz - Ambition
A blast from the past as Joolz recites her poetry to a backing track provided by New Model Army. It was acceptable in the eighties.

27. Mahala Baï Banda - Hora Din Mahala
If you like fiddling or tooting then you'll love this tooting and fiddling fest from Romania.


26. Amy MacDonald - A Wish for Something More
Good old Amy churns out generic Scottish folk music, possibly just for me.


25. Led Er Est - Port Isabel
Last year's number one-sters have to settle for mid-table obscurity this year. Things could have been different if they really had been German.


24. REM - Uberlin
Stipey and the boys got bullied into splitting up by the media, but still produced a cracking last album. Hopefully a solo career beckons.


23. No Blues - Wayack
Beautiful world fusion music from the Songlines Dutch Delta Sounds Compilation.

22. Veronica Falls - The Fountain
Many thanks to the Rough Trade Counter Culture album for this little gem.


21. The Brunettes - Small Town Crew
Quality New Zealand twee-core from Princess Chelsea's one time cohorts.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Doccortex's Festive 50 2012 (40-31)


40. Trentmoller - Even though you're with another girl

The best of a lacklustre bunch from the album 'Into the Great Wide Yonder'; all very cinematic but not a patch on his previous efforts.

39. Azari & III - Tunnel Vision

Old school LFO style techno lifted from the Rough Trade Counter Culture compilation.

38. Omara Portuondo - Ti Dije Quedate

The standout track from Cafe Cuba and the only one with any singalonability value.

37. The Fall - Bury

Mark E Smith's hardy perennials return with the standard issue rocking Fall track; '...composition on a fluted instrument' the highlight.

36. Grimes - Oblivion

The least dirgy song from the high pitched, helium voiced elf's 'Visions' album.

35. Panic at the Disco - The Ballad of Mona Lisa

Substandard action from former Into the Valley favourites, but proof that it's not all wilfully obscure stuff.

34. Ojos de Brujo - Ventilator R-80

Finally an Ojos de Brujo song that has something going for it, even the irritating 'rapping' at the end doesn't spoil it.

33. Daughter - Youth

Quality dark folk discovered by Daughter of Doccortex.

32. Laura Cantrell - One by One

Laura Cantrell breathes life into some proper old school country music from the legendary Kitty Wells.

31. Xeno & Oaklander - Corrupt

Scary coldwave style synth-pop from New York's premium protagonists.

Friday, 4 January 2013

DocCortex's Festive 50 2012 (50-41)

It's that time of the year again when I present my favourite tracks that I've listened to over the last twelve months. They can be any genre or era, so long as I've heard them for the first time this year. So without further ado, here are this year's selections from 50-41.

50. Tilana in Raagam - from the Sound of South East Asia (Songlines Compilation)

It's different, spiritual and hypnotic; a spicy treat from Songlines South East Asia compilation.

49. The Joy Formidable - Cradle

Disappointing live at Leeds Festival, and this is the pick of the tracks from a luke warm debut album.

48. Polly Scattergood - Poem Song

Attempting to climb the League of Quirky Female singers, Polly is distinctly mid-table material, but I quite enjoyed the downcast 'Poem Song'.

47. Lepisto - Ravdanselka

The spooky soundtrack to our summer camping adventure in Bridlington; minimal, haunting and relentless.

46. Bright Eyes - Devil in the Detail

My least favourite album so far from the King of Camp Acoustic, but a great song if you persevere.

45. Future Bible Heroes - I'm Lonely (And I Love it)

Stephin Merrit come up trumps again with a chamber-pop-esque take on synth pop.

44. Royksopp - Sombre Detune

Royksopp get down and dirty with this breathy, dark soundtrack from urban Scandinavia.

43. Those Dancing Days - Run Run

My favourite track from the slightly lacklustre 'In their Space Hero Suits' LP.

42. He is We - Light a Way

A favourite of Daughter of Doccortex and a stunning vocal performance by Rachel Taylor.

41. Johnny Cash - Redemption

You can't go wrong with a bit of Johnny Cash and this is a darkest, most captivating tale from 'American Recordings'.


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Evlkeith's Festive 50 2012 (10-1)

It's the moment the whole world has been waiting for: the final ten entries in this year's Festive 50. You'll feel like you've eaten a whole Ferrero Rocher pyramid after this lot.

10. Fall Of The All American - The Nerve Agents - Revelation Records Crash Course
I bought the album based on the strength of this great song. Shame the rest is pretty useless.

9. Killer - Obits - Moody, Standard And Poor
You can't beat a bit of Rick Froberg. Long may he continue making top pop tunes.

8. The Woods - Portugal. The Man - The Satanic Satanist
Some top slinky pop here from those cheeky lovers of random punctuation.

7. I Remember Your Scars - The Hepburns - Trojan Hearse
Top musical moment of this year: discovering that The Hepburns had continuing making music and had loads of albums that I could purchase in a buying frenzy.

6. Off Your Face - My Bloody Valentine - EP's 1988-1991
I'd heard loads of these before so I was limited to what I could choose from, but this is a cracker.

5. Black Bubblegum - The Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works
This is from a great album, I think I may be purchasing some more Dillinger next year...

4. Dead Don King - The Hepburns - The Last Thing I Saw Before I Said Goodbye
Hooray! More Hepburns goodness. I thought that this was about a dead donkey until I read the title. How I laughed.

3. Electric Girl - she - Electric Girl
Another stunning album and 'she' is yet again on top form. There are so many that I could have chosen but I plumped for the title track. Play loud.

2. Audition - Yourcodenameis:Milo - Ignoto
Album of the year in my book, despite the ropey middle tracks. Play loud.

1. Raped By Ape - Rocket from the Crypt - All Systems Go 2
An historic moment. This is the first time a group has received the coveted number one spot ('Come See, Come Saw' was a previous numero uno). It doesn't have the greatest start but when it kicks off, the ending builds and builds to a stunning climax. I hate songs that have the word monkey in the title. It seems that ape songs don't suffer a similar affliction. Play very loud.