Felt Hits: Blurred vision

HERE’S another fabulous crayon creation for you to take a guess at, after last time around we took a look at Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
This time the great cover version of the album artwork is more recent (although we all know modern life is rubbish), so entertain me and leave a comment below with your guesses.
It could be you that gets it right.

Review: Barbarossa on bristling form

BARBAROSSA, named for the Italian for red beard, is a man clearly lost in a seething, whirling maelstrom of feelings.
I imagine he could burst into tears at the weakest of EastEnders plot lines.
Because the red-bearded bard, real name James Mathe, has one of the most emotional vocals I have heard in a long time on LP Bloodlines.
The London-based soulful singer’s voice mixes the on-the-edge sensitivity of Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor with a Justin Timberlake-style control and gift for high-pitched melodies.
This is perched atop of of compositions that sound like the studio work of the likes of Jamie Woon and James Blake, but played live and raw through vintage equipment, droning organs and 1980s drum machines, giving a real atmosphere to proceedings.
There is, for me, a small something missing overall, perhaps an absolute killer of a track, but nevertheless I imagine, for a debut LP, Barbarossa must be pretty proud of the results – in fact, I’ll wager he was moved to tears. He certainly sounds it.

From the archives: Raw talon

DON’T be fooled by this band’s ferocious moniker – they may sound like the scariest bird since Rosemary West, but instead of wanting to prey on you, the scariest thing the Eagles Of Death Metal want to do is a little humping.
The brainchild of Jesse “The Devil” Hughes, backed up by Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme on drum duties, Eagles Of Death Metal originated from a drunken bet to create the death metal version of the all-conquering Americana of The Eagles.
However the sound morphed from the original blurred vision – that appeared on The Desert Sessions Volume Two, if you’re interested – to their debut Peace Love Death Metal, a pulsating mix of handlebar moustaches, skin-tight leather trousers and ballsy, camp stoner rock.
Imagine what it would sound like if the Scissor Sisters invited Lemmy to play bass, and all took Viagra an hour before the recording…

Review: Farka Toure in a reflective mood

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THE civil war in Mali has had devastating consequences for the people of the African nation – but one of the less obvious results of the conflict has been the explosion in its cultural output, despite a ban.
Musicians from Mali have been prolific in 2013, and now Vieux Farka Toure, one the most famous of his peers, has put out Mon Pays.
This is not an LP that’s full of doom and gloom however, nor is it fired by vitriol and political anger.
Instead this mainly-acoustic effort finds Toure in a philosophical mood, his trademark meandering Afro-blues guitar work reflecting his feelings on the conflict through numbers such as Peace and Future.
The vocal and musical explorations here are free-ranging, allowed to do so by a razor sharp percussive backing, the taps and clicks allowing Toure a freedom of expression.
As you’d expect while he roams, especially for a work created in the backdrop of such a vicious conflict, there are dark moments here – the slavery song Yer Gando for instance -but the lasting image here is of the culture and country that’s being hidden behind the headlines.

From the archives: Dreadbanging

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WHAT do you get if you mix dub reggae and heavy metal?
No, the offspring of that unholy union is Dub Trio’s third album, Another Sound Is Dying.
The album, which is instrumental apart from the standout No Flag featuring Mike Patton of Faith No More on vocal duties, fuses heavy metal riffs fuller than Rik Waller leaving an all you can eat buffet with ponderous Mogwai style space rock and skanking Lee “Scratch” Perry dub sections.
On paper this should be a shambles, but on record it actually works.
The movements from one section to another never seem to jar, and there is a unlikely unity that carries through the whole LP.

Review: Less is more with minimal Howes

MINIMAL house is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it – and normally it’s not really my taste in electronic jams.
But I’m more than happy to raise a toast to the work of Howes.
The 19-year-old’s soundscape on teaser EP TD-W700/Leazes is a sparse, computerised one – but there’s a life breathed into these bare beats.
The tracks are pounding but never repetitive, and these are illuminated by the use of reconstituted, reworked samples such as the French speaking on Asiko or the brooding bells behind the intro to Leazes.
A great way to break my house music fasting, I’m looking forward to tucking in to a full length LP.

From the archives: Shadow leaves the rest in the dark

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ENDTRODUCING… set the standard back in 1996, and finally, six near-silent years later, The Private Press saw DJ Shadow return to prove it was no one off.
Casting a huge shadow over his peers, The Private Press – possibly my favourite Classic Collection addition so far – is impeccably put together from start to finish, showcasing why Josh Davis is a god amongst producers.
Here he cuts and pastes with the best of the turntablists, with breaks and smile-raising samples laid on in equal measures on tracks like Mashin’ On The Motorway and Right Thing.
But what sets Shadow apart are the mini masterpieces, the tracks like Fixed Income, Giving Up The Ghost or You Can’t Go Home Again, which pile on his trademark cavernous orchestral feel.
It’s these moments which sends shivers up and down the spine, and make The Private Press a true classic.