An alternative End of Year Brighton Top ten

As Rob has been meticulously drip-feeding his top twenty from 2014 into the blog over the last few weeks, I thought I’d provide an alternative listing just to show the diversity of our blogging tastes. That meant, no duplication with the Rob-o-Sphere, and so out went Curxes, Cate Ferris, Fear of Men, all of which were excellent in my book.

That left me with the following selections capturing ten (well, eleven) of the brilliant sounds and songs that emerged from our fair city over the last year in a shambling semblance/pretence of order:

Bentcousin – Dizzy 

These terrible twins have been drip-feeding the cosmos with some ace songs, but this was the killer track for me released on a vinyl 7 inch and with some super Brighton-relevant rapping from Rory P.

 

yourgardenday – Something in the Music

A gorgeous plea for tolerance and harmony and a love of music, this had a limited release last year as lead track on Robin Coward’s Flat Stream EP, finally getting a full on-line release this summer.

 

Time for T – Free Hugs

An adorable band writing some adorable songs, this slunk of 70s soul has a great chorus and a charming video in which the band spend the whole song hugging Brighton people. Did I say it was adorable?

 

Sharon Lewis –  Boxer’s Glove 

Released right at the tail end of last year, this came from the Simple Things EP that accompanied Sharon’s excellent album, a melancholic tale of domestic violence, harsh but beautiful.

 

5  Fragile Creatures –  Fragile Creatures 

This band write some classic pop and none better than this – the self-named winner from their first EP which came out this summer.

 

Ellie Ford – Low

Singer-songwriter who had her debut EP re-released by Hidden Trail Records this year, from whence came this song, and also released an excellent covers EP. Ellie Ford is a singer who just gets better and better and her debut album should come out next year.

 

7 AK/DK – Maxwell’s Waves

This track comes from their album titled ‘Synth + Drums + Noise + Space’ which kind of sums up their sound without the excitement of their stunning live shows.

 

8 Slum of Legs – Razorblade the tape

This band are manic live, and their initial punky 7″ single on the Tuff Enuff label captures just half of this energy. This was the b-side.

 

9 Fiona Sally Miller – Lanterns

From one of three EPs released on the same day, this was one of the proper songs rather than the underwater experimental or live tracks, but like so much of Miller’s work it sounded magical.

 

=10 The Delta Bell – Wasted

Hiawatha Telephone Company – Dave

‘Wasted’ is a classic rambling country song sung by the gorgeous tones of Kate Gerrard and hit all the right notes in my book.

Shamelssly squeezing an eleventh song into my top ten I’ll come clean and admit that I had a hand in ‘Dave’, but it’s a song that ought to resonate in 2015 it being election year. Ripe for a cover, but for now we have this.

 

New Music

Here’s our first new music post of August. There’s doesn’t seem as many gigs around at the moment, but that hasn’t translated in and slowing down of the new music we get to write about.

First up is Curxes with their new single Valkyrie. Valkyrie has been a staple of the band’s live sets for a while, and they first mentioned the track to us in an interview we did with them back in February last year where they described it as “probably the most batshit thing we’ve done so far”. You can’t argue with that. The single comes with remix from Deluxe Flamingos and an instrumental, and is out on 18th August, available for preorder here.

The mysterious Black Honey have put out a second track. Teenager has a faster tempo than last month’s Sleep Forever, but is still drenched with reverb heavy guitars and a vocal Lana Del Rey would be proud of.

We went along to the launch of the new Slum of Legs single at Sticky Mike’s a couple of weeks back, but at the time Begin to Dissolve hadn’t been posted online. You can listen and buy it now though, via Tuff Enuff Records, the record label offshoot of Riots Not Diets. The single is an anarchic lo-fi romp which takes no prisoners, which for the sake of clarification, is a good thing in our book.

Slum of Legs at Sticky Mike's 23/7/14

Lick Music, the musical offshoot of the people who make the fantastic frozen yoghurt have put out some tasters, but not of the dairy product variety. Following on from the Milk & Biscuits tape put out earlier this year, Lick are putting out another cassette on August 25th, this time by Octopuses. Once again it’s a four-tracker, with two studio tracks on side A and two live tracks on side B. Lead Track Cool Story Bro is set to appear on Octopuses debut album Yes Please due later this year.

RiD are a new band who’ve just put out their first EP. The EP is entitled Move Juice and the title track is called Smile:

Japanese Sweets, the ambient side project from Speak Galactic’s Owen Thomas, have put up two new tracks on Soundcloud. Our favourite is the effervescent Brief Luminescence:

Rather more gentle is Sallow Tree, the new track from Lutine. It’s being released as a single on 25th August, and precede’s the folk duo’s debut album White Flowers which comes out at the end of September.

Native sons email with their debut track Humanise in the middle of the heatwave a couple of weeks back, so it almost got lost as we stayed away from our overheating PC in an attempt to try and stay cool. Here it is now though, with it’s melodic tropical guitars and anthemic choruses.

Our last new music roundup featured an IYES remix, and here we are only a week later with another. This time it’s their slow-mo take on Indiana‘s Heart on Fire:

 

Hiawatha Telephone Company plays Passengers Greatest Hits

‘Passengers Greatest Hits’. You might think this was a collection of songs by Mike Rosenberg but its title comes from the series of photographs of forlorn commuters which feature in the lyric book that accompanies this new CD by our occasional Brighton Music Blog contributor and photographer in his alternative moniker of Hiawatha Telephone Company. We spoke to Jon about what he thought he was up to.   BMB: How was this album made? JON: The whole thing was written in two parts – half of the songs in February 2013, the other half in February 2014 and then it was recorded a couple of days later pretty much in single takes by Martyn Lewis Moss (Butterfly House) in his Kemp Town attic on a Tascam cassette recorder. No computers or wizzardry involved. Then Martyn added some bass and keyboards, Maria Marzaioli (Slum of Legs, Reds) came along the following day and played some violin on some tracks she’d never heard before and there you have it. Wham bam, it’s an album, man! It sounds primitive. Do you wish you’d spent more time on it? Passengers Greatest Hits Probably. It’s a hard album to get into because there is no compromise with modern technology or much in the way of professionalism to be honest. But that also means it doesn’t sound like anything else. It won’t age because it already sounds old. We just wanted to get it down really quickly. And Martyn has this thing about never trying more than three takes of anything. If it isn’t working you should just move on, is his recording motto. In most cases we left it at just the one take. The flaws are so obvious that to get into the album you have to overlook them and treat it differently from the things you’d normally listen to. I think listening to it should feel more like a stroll around a small art gallery, rather than putting on a CD. Did it have any particular influences? I’ve always loved those old crackly blues and country recordings from the 1930s and so on [Ed: the first Hiawatha Telephone Company album was named after folklorist Harry Smith who specialised in collecting such 78s] and some of the songs take that approach. There’s the early primitive pop songs of Daniel Johnston, also recorded onto tape and those sound even more flaky than these do. And I was listening to a fair bit of Bill Callahan this winter, so some of these songs sounds a bit like Smog to me. But who knows? We’re just a mess of all the things we absorb over time, aren’t we? Tell us about the songs. I’m really proud of the opening song ‘If I didn’t love you’. I thought I was going to write a love song. Turned out it was a splitting up or a morbid death song. It was the first one we recorded and I told Martyn his piano should sound like the cold desolate Nordic sound of Sibelius, which it kind-of does. The shortest song is ‘keep it simple’ which started out as a bit of a joke that I wrote in 5 minutes playing around in the chord of D. It’s not really recorded right but we just left it and I think it’s cute. Oddly the next two shortest songs are the ones with the most words in them, both songs I’m really proud of. ‘Song about time’ has some great poetry in it, about needing to live life for the moment. Because you cannot battle time? Yep. The other one is ‘The Cost of Going To Work By Train’ which is an epic by my standards, full of words and stories. I intended it to be a bit of a mythical song, in the form of a traditional folk song, but one firmly rooted in modern lived experience. It’s clearly not about any one real person but it tries to represent the common man. At least I think it tries. There are some proper country songs in this collection aren’t there? Yes, two at least. ‘Ain’t no rainbow’ is a lovely song I think, soft, simple with the same four chords throughout but I like the clichés it uses which still manage to sound surprising to me. And I like how I just told Maria to play something sad and rural, and she came up with this wonderful violin line that’s totally infused with straw and cow-shit. And then there’s Woody’s Song, which I’m really proud of. It’s based on the New Year’s Rulin’s that Woody Guthrie wrote and I have as a poster in my kitchen but he never turned them into a song so far as I know. So I did. I think it could sound better of course, much as I love Maria’s beautiful country-fried violin. But I still hope someone else records it. I think it could be a big hit in Nashville! Passengers Greatest hitsDo you see all of these as songs other people might record? For sure. I think they’re good enough and ought to exist in other versions. They’re all pretty simple, but pretty little tunes. I ought to record other versions myself! What about Dave? A lot of people will think that’s about one person [our present Prime Minister].  That wasn’t really the intention, although I can see why people think it might be. It’s not how I see him – if anything it’s more about the sorts of people he probably thinks he’s against. It’s a song I really like playing live. It gets a reaction. It isn’t the only political song on the album by any means, although none of them are very obviously political I suppose. Do you have a favourite song?  I’m fond of Waking Up With You, more for the verses as I still don’t feel like I’ve finished the chorus. I might rewrite it, but I just wanted to record it for my wife. I didn’t really expect to include it in the album but it turned out OK so I did. And I really like the last song ‘I’ll never Leave you Baby’ which is another simple love song, but one with a twist. It’s a fun song to play live and I also really like Martyn’s bass line on it. A stupidly simple song, but it works. The CD’s only available in physical copy at the moment. Is that right? Yes it is. It’s a proper CD with a nice little printed photo-lyric book in a numbered edition, and it’s dead cheap. You can buy it or just listen on bandcamp, download a couple of tracks for free via Soundcloud or I’d send the mp3s (and the lyrics and chords) to anyone who asks nicely. I’ll probably make the thing available for download but only when most of the CDs have gone. Any plans for more recording? Well it took me five years to get around to recording my first album and another five years for this one. That said, I have plenty of other songs in a big book which never get played so maybe I should record some of them. So many songs, so little time. And we managed to go the whole interview without asking about your band name. Yep. Well done for that. Thanks. {smiles} ‘Passengers Greatest Hits’ is available now in a limited numbered 1st edition of 100 from the Hiawatha Telephone Company bandcamp site Hiawatha Telephone Company

Weekend Gig Picks

Things on the gig front in Brighton are still rather quiet, so this weekend’s gig post isn’t quite the usual bumper affair.

There are a couple of gigs which have caught our eye – Carnival Collective at the Blind Tiger on Friday Night, and Chris T-T at Bermuda Triangle on Saturday Night – but the one thing that we really really like the look of this weekend was Green Door Store’s Third Birthday. Has it really been three years? They’ve got five bands playing on Friday Night, two of which are local talent. Slum of Legs (on at 10pm) and Theo Verney (on at 12:15) join three London bands and a whole host of DJs who have hosted club nights there. The fun kicks off at 9pm, and it’s all free.

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