Latest Album

From blogging about one of the first albums I ever bought in my last post to the last album I bought; “Shedding Skin” by Ghostpoet.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this album that happened at the start of this week. His last album I loved so was keen to get hold of this as soon as possible so pre-ordered it online. This is quite rare for me as I normally wait until the initial rush is over then pick it up later.

So what’s it like? Well it is a bit different from the previous album as this one has more of a live band sound to it. That’s not a bad thing. My favourite track has to be the first single “Off Peak Dreams”; it’s probably the closest to the last album and it’s got a great beat.

I like Ghostpoet because he’s different from my usual music choice. This album still has that uniqueness of his lazy vocals where he just talks over the tracks in places. The title track and “Yes, I Helped You Pack” are other great tracks on the album. Some of the lyrics are certainly more darker than his earlier work but it sort of suits the music.

The last couple of tracks slide into a more slower pace that I’m not sure suits his style. Overall though it’s still a good listen and different from other stuff I own.

The Second Album I Bought

Today I listened to the second album I ever bought. I’ve already posted about the first one but this was only second by a few minutes as I bought both on the same visit to a record shop. The album is “Outlandos d’Armour” by The Police.

Although The Police turned into a worldwide mega-success with very sophisticated music and songs this debut album is a clear cut rock album. It has elements of the post punk era, “Peanuts” and “Next To You” are good examples. “Roxanne” is the best known track probably giving them their eventual break through.

Interestingly the album got a bit of mixed reviews and wasn’t an instant success. However over the years opinions have changed and Rolling Stones puts the album at #38 in best debut albums of all time. And in the high 400s of the best 500 albums of all time.

One strong memory I have of this album is the appearance it made on the TV Nationwide with Frank Bough. So the article was about the song “So Lonely” because a viewer had written in and said they thought The Police were singing about “Sue Lawley”. This being the name of one of the presenters. Unbelievable that such a thing merited coverage on national television. However what was really funny was they showed a close up of the LP playing on a deck for the duration of the track; just the black dust spinning round.

Library Inspired

Today working at home I had the chance to listen to loads of old music. One album I feel had a big influence in my music “upbringing”; “Low Life” by New Order.

The big memory that this album triggers is of the local library where I lived when growing up. It was a fair size library but I wasn’t into books at that time; but the treasure it had in its bowels was a record library. Yes it was a department where they had lots of vinyl albums that could be borrowed just like a book. This album was one of the ones I borrow before buying it; it fact it is probably were I was first exposed to the albums New Order were creating at the time.

It has the typical unusual album sleeve that was common place for Factory records at the time. This one has a frosted, translucent sleeve that slid over the top of the normal cardboard record sleeve. I know once I eventually bought this album after the library version I treated it with great care not to rip it. In hindsight it was pretty impractical but I do miss the feel and spectacle of a big record sleeve.

The album has some great tracks all with the unique New Order sound; I do think this album cements New Order as very much an “album band” compared to other compatriots being more singles focused with the rest of an album full of filler tracks.

“Sunrise” is a good example as it’s a great track but would never do well as a single. It is very heavy guitar based like the old Joy Division music. A contrast to “Sub-Culture” which develops on the electro sound of their previous album but takes it to a pop style. Then tracks like “Sooner Than You Think” have that classic New Order sound of keyboards mashed with heavy bass overlaid with Barney’s vocals struggling to compete.

A Mystery Album

Today driving to work I listened to a mystery album; “A Short Album About Love” by The Divine Comedy.

I describe this album as a mystery because I have no recollection of why or when it was bought. It’s just always (since 1997) been there in the cupboard. My guess is we bought it on the back of the “Everyone Knows (Except You)” single which, at the time, was their most successful single. This single shows off the dry humour of The Divine Comedy lyrics.

The album is full of big sounding tracks as it was recorded with a 30 piece orchestrate that is used with great benefit. The lyrics and vocal perfectly complement the rich sound. I think Neil Hannon’s voice is brilliant and so unique.

The title sums up pretty accurately the motive behind the songs on the album. I don’t own an album that has a clearer title than this one. Apparently it was released to coincide with Valentine’s Day.

First of 2015

Today I listened to my first album released in 2015; “Matador” by Gaz Coombes.

I bought this after hearing some of the tracks on Spotify in one of their new music playlists. I have previously bought the single “One of These Days” by Gaz Coombes (actually titled Gaz Coombes Presents) so was already aware of his solo material. This track was particularly a house favourite at home.

For those that don’t know Gaz Coombes is the lead singer of Supergrass whom I have already posted an entry. I’ve always thought of Supergrass as the modern day equivalent of Madness. Three cheeky chaps that make friendly happy tunes.

However this solo work is very different. It has a real maturity and depth to the tracks compared to that earlier material. The track “Detroit” is my favourite on the album but there are plenty of other good ones. His vocals on a couple of the tracks are very similar to Thom Yorke; both come from Oxford so maybe it’s a local thing !!!

It is fair to say it is my favourite of the album so far this year; of course it is actually the only album from this year so far………but I think it will stay near the top of my list as the year progresses.

Live Music

A few weeks ago we went to watch Alt-J play at the O2 arena in London and saw this great band supporting them; Wolf Alice. They don’t have a full album out yet but do have a couple of EPs that handily are on Spotify “Blush” and “Creature Songs”.

So I had heard of Wolf Alice beforehand but to be honest hadn’t any idea what they sounded like. But I found that they make great guitar music and they were very good live. The music reminds me a bit of Lush with lots of heavy distorted guitar. It’s also has a similar sound to The Sundays from the nineties with the female vocalist. A couple of the tracks on “Blush” have a feel of The XX as well.

On the latest Creature Songs EP the stand out track is “Moaning Lisa Smile”; a track that should be played loud.

I guess one way online music has helped is with these smaller bands. So years ago if I had heard a band I liked at a gig I would have to find a record shop selling their album. That could be difficult if they were unknown. The alternative was to buy the dreaded cassette the band were selling at the gig themselves; that could be hit and miss with the quality. But now I was listening to the full back catalogue the day after the gig at home.

Sampling taken to the extreme

Today driving home from work I listened to a strange one hit wonder album “Since I Left You” by The Avalanches.

This album apparently reached number 8 in the UK charts but I have always considered it as being a bit obscure. What is pretty amazing about this album is a good friend of ours from university bought it for us as a present but she knows nothing about music. So either she is a secret follower of music or it was a total random guess.

The style is described as “Plunderphoncis” on Wikipedia which is music made up of many samples; hence the Plunder name. Apparently this album contains over 3000 samples which is pretty hard to imagine. Some of them are easily recognisable; “Stool Pigeon” by Kid Creole and the Coconuts is one I particularly recognised.

The tracks naturally flow into each other without gaps for virtually the whole album; making it a perfect driving album. Sandwiched in amongst the 18 tracks are the 2 big singles “Frontier Psychiatrist” and “Since I Left You”.