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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Global UnderGround: John Digweed V Danny Tenaglia

In the first of an occasional new series, we pit two of those perennial show offs, or Disc Jockeys as they are more commonly known, against each other in a DJ shoot out of global proportions. Hopefully we can discover who is actually worth listening to in the world of turntablism, mixing and dropping huge tunes. Here we present you with the first match up of round 1; Diggers versus Tenaglia…
DJ Shoot Out Round 1
There was a time when I wanted to collect all the Global Underground compilations. That was before I'd heard a few of them. But I couldn’t resist Digweed's Los Angeles and Tengalia's Athens disks when I saw them in a three for a fiver promotion. So in the first of this new series, we ask the question; which of these superstar international DJ types produced the best selection of tunes?

Being a DJ is the most over-rated occupation in the whole world. Essentially their task is to pick out records for us to listen to, but invariably they pick sixteen duffers and perhaps one better than average track. To make matters worse they 'mix' them all together into one gigantic abysmal continuous mess that engulfs the odd entertaining song which is now almost impossible to find. These guys take a real pride in their ability to seamlessly mix two songs together to the point of absolute smugness. I've got news for you boys; no-one cares!

With this in mind, I didn't have high hopes for our protagonists. Diggers once picked a couple of good songs for a Northern Exposure Compilation years ago, but on this showing he manages to pick just one decent song out of the twenty two (Kelli Ali-Love in Traffic). For a man whose job it is to pick good songs, that's a pitiful return at  just over 4%.
The problem is DJ's will do anything to avoid being referred to as 'cheesy'. To your average DJ, 'cheesy' is not the Vengaboys, but anything even slightly entertaining or interesting. Diggers packs his two CD set with the most dirgy soulless and vocal-less repetitive beats, that could only be out-dirged if PJ Harvey took up human beat-boxing and blasted out repetitive bleepy dirge at the same time as her indie rock dirge. To summarise: it's boring.

On the other hand, Tenaglia manages to pick no good songs and his set is equally boring but with a dirty, scuzzy New York kind of vibe. Basically, it's his job to pick good songs, but he can't find any. That's like a miner who can't find coal, a dentist who can't find your teeth or a dinner lady who can't lay her hands on some flapjack!

At the end of the day it's a hollow victory for Diggers and you can save yourself a lot of time and pain by Youtubing the Keli Ali track instead (or just click on it below). But he’s through to the next round, where who knows which international superstar show off he will meet?

Result: Digweed 1-0 Tengalia

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Shrag – Rabbit Kids

Pick of the Week 28 – Shrag

This is what happens when you’re past your sell by date as an indie band, but don’t want to give up and become a primary school teacher. It’s all very wholesome; from the twee jangle-pop of the song to the rather disappointing game of pass the parcel, Shrag appear to be lovely, adorable people. Musically, it takes you back to 1989, somewhere between the Shop Assistants and Stereolab, but that’s no bad thing in my book. I guess we’re running out of sane excuses now…   

Monday, 11 March 2013

Ojos de Brujo - Bari

Despite the fact that everyone in the World music community loves Ojos de Brujo, I've never managed to engage with their flamenco based charms. I am not going to bore regular readers with my views on the band as they have remained unaltered from my original rant on the review of  Aocaná last year, but there is one startling difference about Bari; I actually really like one of the songs!

The curiously titled Ventilator R-80 is an exhilarating roller coaster ride through an alt-folk Spain. The chorus is an anthemic call to arms although with my limited knowledge of Spanish I have no idea what it means. The whole effect is not even spoiled by some Speedy Gonzales style vocals and some more Spanish Vanilla Ice style rapping. If I could loop just the chorus over and over again I'd be a happy man. Sadly the rest of the album reverts back to the Ojos formula, but let's not be greedy.

I'm sure Ojos de Brujo fans will love this collection of  nu-wave flamenco, but for me I'm just happy I can finally see a glimmer of the appeal. If you like Gloria Estefan with Speedy and a Spanish rapper on backing vocals then this is the album for you.

Monday, 4 March 2013

First Aid Kit - The Big Black and the Blue

The Soderberg sisters are not the most original talents in the world of popular music. They serve up a timeless take on female vocal folk that pushes no boundaries and blurs no genres. The fact is their folk music is so perfect and pure that no-one cares. This is folk music filtered through Scandinavian rock formations and served from expensive New York water coolers.

For artistes of such a tender age this is an accomplished and mature album. It sounds like generic Americana, but spiked with a shot of  akvavit and served with a cherry on a stick. The girls voices mesh with a synergy not seen since Agnetha and Anni-frid were warbling their way to international super-stardom, but sadly the girls are possibly headed for folky rather than mainstream success.

Every track is a slow burning winner, but if pressed I'd say 'Ghost Town', 'Heavy Storm' and 'Sailor Song' are all worthy of special attention. Best of all is the eerie melancholy of  'Winter is All Over You'; a gorgeous juxtaposition of crystal vocals and profound lyricism, and one of my favourite tracks of last year.

I can't wait to hear more of what First Aid Kit have to offer. Fans of folk will love their approach, but music lovers in general cannot help but be moved by the passion, purity and confidence inherent in these songs. A sure-fire winner; go and search them out immediately.