From the archives: Cool Kid

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IT SAYS something that classic turntablist album Carpal Tunnel Syndrome comes with a free comic book and computer game.
Now that’s value for money – clearly Kid Koala, real name Eric San, is a DJ bulging with ideas.
And never content to just drop a beat and sit back, from start to finish this album is a lesson in DJ-ing technically as well as creatively.
And clearly the leg work has been done beforehand as well – there’s no Eric B or James Brown sampling here, in fact nothing obvious at all.
From the ‘wakey wakey, eggs and bakey’ of Music For Morning People through the meandering Drunk Trumpet to the clucking bizarre Like Irregular Chickens, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is some of the most original, skilled and entertaining music to come out of two turntables.

From the archives: Divine Grace

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IN THE pantheon of musicians who died before their time, up there with greats such as Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon, should be Jeff Buckley.
If you’ve heard Jeff Buckley’s golden voice you know what I’m talking about. Sadly, most people haven’t as Jeff, son of folk great Tim, died in 1997 while working on a follow-up to 1994’s Grace, his only completed album.
This is an album that touches people that hear it, that cannot fail to bring a tear to the eye and a shiver to the spine.
Although Jeff drowned before completing the sophomore Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk, his music continues to grow in cult status through word of mouth and influence, which can be heard in countless critically-acclaimed artists luckily still around today, such as Radiohead, Chris Cornell, PJ Harvey, Muse, Rufus Wainwright, Our Lady Peace, John Legend, Badly Drawn Boy, Aimee Mann, Jason Mraz, the list goes on and on.

From the archives: Mraz you like it

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WITH his new single I’m Yours, Mechanicsville-born singer songwriter Jason Mraz is finally getting some deserved recognition in the UK.
And it’s about time too.
I’ve been a massive advocate of reggae-tinged rap singer Mraz since his 2002 debut album Waiting For My Rocket To Come.
From the tender tracks like You And I and Boy’s Gone to the cheeky patter of I’ll Do Anything and Curbside Prophet, Waiting For My Rocket To Come was an assured launchpad for an artist hopefully about to explode.

From the archives: Idlewild one

BEFORE they became Scotland’s answer to REM and thier members began releasing solo folk projects, Idlewild used to rock, and rock hard.
100 Broken Windows, the group’s 2000 breakthrough release, is a brilliant collection of hook-laden tracks that hinted at the softening to follow, but wrapped in an aggressive barrage of grungey overdrive.
And with catchy tracks like Actually It’s Darkness, Roseability and These Wooden Ideas, it’s no wonder that 100 Broken Windows broke the band.

Review: Chris T-T sets your pulse racing

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CULT act Chris T-T has always been one of those musicians whose appeal has eluded me – his small following being almost zealous in their championing of the London-based singer has kinda put me off.
But here, on The Bear, his unique way of capturing the eccentricities of his and my generation of Brits just clicks.
His ramshackle approach is now grizzly, where he poked and prodded he now shakes – the opening half of this album, in all its raw and raucous splendour, especially opener Party Like Its 1994, has to be one of the best of 2013.
Lyrically Chris T-T is captivating, and here he delivers some great lyrics with aplomb – the unrepeatable-on-a-family-website quip about a panda for instance – over his band of Hoodlums’ indie rock.
Elsewhere he takes philosphocal, more introvert diversions, which although less immediate showcase a composer just brimming with ideas.
Now a few listens in to The Bear, I’m not going to call myself a Chris T-T cult covert just yet – but for the first time in his career I can see what the fuss has been about.

From the archives: Head master

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IF HERBIE Hancock’s semainal Head Hunters album is not yet in your collection, it’s time for you to track it down and capture a copy for yourself.
The four-track LP was a real breakwater for the jazz funk genre, soaking the listener in squelching basslines, wah wah synths, furious-fingered piano, skittering drums and space age sound effects, even blazing trails for genres yet to be invented, such as hop hop and electro.
Amazingly, the pioneering album was released way back in 1973.
Less amazingly, the first half of the album, made up of the all-time classic Chameleon and beer bottle blowing Watermelon Man, are standards today.
Coupled with Sly, a jazz track dedicated to funk musician Sly Stone, and the wild Vein Melter, Head Hunters is a real bounty.

Review: Spacehog have grown

NOW Spacehog’s return was a comeback I wasn’t expecting.
But when a copy of their album, As It Is On Earth, landed on my desk – their first LP in a good decade – I was as happy as a pig in muck.
Because for me, Spacehog were a band that always deserved more.
They stuck their tongue in the cheek of glam rock before The Darkness made it cool, and then rubbish, to do so.
They were a great guitar-slinging band at a time when guitar bands ruled, yet they were plonked firmly in the back seat of ’90s rock, sharing an earphone and staring out of the window with the likes of Gay Dad and the Longpigs, while the likes of Oasis drove and Blur held the map up front.
And I reckon this might be a view shared by Royston Langdon and his band – there’s a huge slice of melancholy flavouring this album, and it makes for a stirring listen.
Because juxtaposed with the knowing rock numbers which fit with their previous oeuvre, such as the funky Oh, Dinosaur or the anthemic Sunset Boulevard, are simply beautiful offerings like the emotional Deceit, and the ethereal Cool Water.
This results are a more mature sound from Spacehog, which makes what was a great albeit underrated band all the more compelling.
Just don’t leave it 12 years until the next one, eh lads.