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.

Haiku Reviews

SLAP on the wrist, I’ve been struggling to keep up with the volume of review requests I’ve had through recently and haven’t managed to review all the albums I should have done.
So to make it up to any acts who’ve slipped through the net in recent weeks, I’ve penned a haiku review of some of them.
Here they are –
Saint Max And The Fanatics – Saint Max Is Missing And The Fanatics Are Dead
Derivative rock,
Made much less derivative,
With inventive horns.
Fighting Fiction – The Long And Short Of It
Rabble rousing band,
With political insight,
Distracted by girls.
HAIM – Days Are Gone
Eighties tinted pop,
Perfect for the summertime,
Released in Autumn?
Deaf Havana – Old Souls
Wanted to review,
Postman delivered the case,
With no CD in.

Review: I’ve heard that Fela before…

TAKING on the greats is always a tricky proposition, but Red Hot + Fela sees a myriad of artists both Western and African do just that with the late, great Fela Kuti.
And these are no standard covers – ranging from hip hop to house to jazz these reworkings are carried out with such imagination and enthusiasm that in most cases only the spirit and feeling of the originals remain.
Because of the variety the results are as you’d expect a mixed bag, but more hit than miss – personal standouts for me are the moving, largely-instrumental Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am, plus the Underworld-esque No Buredi.
And the all-star list of contributors – which include tUnE-yArDs, Questlove, My Morning Jacket, Alabama Shakes, Kronos Quartet and TV On The Radio among their ranks – have done this in the name of charity, to help raise money towards the fight against HIV/AIDs.
So if you’re a fan of Fela Kuti, I urge you to put any reservations to one side, and if you’re not, I’ll wager a listen to this and you’ll be looking to discover him afterwards.

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.

Review: The Fratellis make a full recovery

WE NEED Medicine, the new album from The Fratellis, sees the Scottish rockers in rude health.
The band were, without a doubt, under the weather, after their fine debut album Costello Music had been backed up by a disappointing sophomore effort, Here We Stand, and a hiatus – but this is the sound of a band back at their playful best.
They can at times on this LP sound a bit like a pound shop Arctic Monkeys – She’s Not Gone Yet But She’s Leaving, for example – and they’re still prone to a dodgy lyric or two.
But when they get in full rock pomp, such as opener Halloween Blues or the amazing Whisky Saga, there’s no band out there that’s as fun as The Fratellis.
I prescribe a listen to We Need Medicine.

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: The Pure Conjecture need to prove themselves

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SUPERGROUP The Pure Conjecture – made up of members of British Sea Power, The Brakes, Electric Soft Parade and more – pick an unusual choice for an opener to their second album.
Because there are interesting ideas all over their second LP, Gendres.
I Just Want You To Love Me and Surfin’ Sunset have overtones of surf rock, Opinion Fatigue drips with Pet Sounds harmonies, Dictators has its sound subtley but brillantly warped, etc.
But the band choose a mediocre indie track, Roadworks On Memory Lane, a forgettable track about being completely unremarkable, to start.
This kind of sums up this collection for me – despite all the good things going on here, this soft soul indie rock record has an aura of unremarkbleness all over.
The Pure Conjecture may be a supergroup on paper, but on this evidence to argue they’resuper on record would be speculative at best.