Buy the new issue of MOJO! There’s fab features on Kim Gordon, The Pop Group and Jackson Browne, a piece on an obscure new band called Led Zeppelin (you may not have heard of them but I think they will go far), and my profile of the fabulous Chastity Belt. Also, I review the new Matthew E White album; spoiler: it’s a cracker.
And last weekend I saw what was easily one of the greatest live performances of my entire gig-going career. I could wax on for hundreds of words about how wonderful D’Angelo & The Vanguard were at the Hammersmith Apollo. In fact, I did, and you can read it here.
Hello! We’re already almost halfway through February, and here’s the stuff I’ve done so far this year.
An epic review of the 21st Anniversary reissue of Afghan Whigs’ masterful Gentlemen.
A rundown of Billy Joel’s ten finest tracks (yes he’s done ten great tracks, don’t be smart).
The wonderful Natalie Prass, live in London.
DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist go joyriding with Afrika Bambaataa’s record bag.
Every year always seems to me to be the best year ever for music, and the moment it doesn’t is the moment I quit this world. Here are my favourite albums of 2014, sort of in no particular order, though the Top 5 sort of is. If you missed out on that Kate Tempest album, go search it out, as she’s as singular and impressive a talent as I’ve ever seen, and her album Everybody Down is a remarkable achievement, the Concept Album/Song Cycle/Rap-opera that delivers more with every subsequent listen. East India Youth is Robert Wyatt meets Giorgio Moroder meets Tim Hecker meets Brian Wilson, but totally his own thing, and totally wonderful. Ty Segall… Well, Ty’s rocked my world for the last few years with albums like Melted and Twins and Slaughterhouse, along with a slew of singles and such-like, and Manipulator pulls off that trickiest of manouevres, translating his cultish brilliance to a broader canvas without selling out the weird kinks that made him so bewitching in the first place. Young Fathers totally deserved that Mercury Prize, though so did Kate and East India Youth, and perhaps its a testament to such a great year of music that three artists were up for a gong that typically leaves me totally cold. And that D’Angelo album hasn’t been out long enough for me to get fed up of it yet, or to totally unravel all its charms, but I’m loving the ride, and every corner of its sprawling funk.
Bring on 2015.
east india youth
thee oh sees
I’ve not been updating a huge amount this summer, as our wonderful baby daughter arrived in May and has very much been my focus ever since, but I’ve recently been contributing more lists for the Guardian’s regular 10 Of The Best feature, compiling the ten greatest moments in the Supremes’ recording career, and ditching all semblance of ‘cool’ in order to distill Genesis’ decades of progular activity down to ten tunes. These lists were an awful lot of fun to write, I hope they’re as much fun to read. If not, you could always submit a load of abuse in the Guardian comments’ sections, I believe that’s what they’re there for.
I’ve also managed to see a couple of gigs since parenthood descended upon us; please enjoy reviews of Mary J Blige at the Camden Roundhouse, and Jerry Dammers’ remarkable Spatial AKA Arkestra at the Barbican.
More Loose Lips updates coming very soon.
Hello! I interviewed the fantastic Mugstar, Liverpool-based architects of squalling, hypnotic space-rock, for Loose Lips Sink Ships, and you can read it here, alongside some typically marvelous photography from Steve Gullick.
And if you’re a fan of Steve’s work [if you’re not, I’m assuming you must be blind, and if so then how are you reading this, eh?], you might be interested to learn that his book of Nirvana-era photography, Nirvana Diary, is soon to be available – more info here. Get up close and personal to Steve’s actual photographs at Rough Trade East from August 4th, and get up close and personal with Steve himself – in the company on the ever-awesome Keith Cameron – at this event on August 20th.
I’ve done a couple of these 10 Of The Bests for The Guardian this year, but none presented quite such a challenge as distilling the genius of Madness into only 10 choice tracks. Madness were the first pop band I ever loved – a perfect first pop band, I think, given their joyous lunacy, but also the weird twists and subtle politics of their later work. They were the first pop band I ever saw live – Southampton Gaumont, Mad Not Mad tour; they hurled ten-foot-tall blue balloons into the audience for the encore, which is how you win over a nine-year-old. This was personal.
Selecting ten songs that encompassed the breadth of their vision, their ever-changing-moods, their unique Nutty THING was tough as nails, but I enjoyed every spin and respin of their entire catalogue under the guise of “research”. Disagree with my choices? Then get thee to the Guardian comments section…
Other 10 Of The Bests you are invited to digest and tarry with:
“It’s like compartmentalisation. Once I get it out, it’s in a box, a drawer, and away from me. I’m not perfect. I’m still figuring out how to deal with my own shit. But I’m learning how to deal with my emotions in a positive way.”
Things have been a little quiet on this front lately, mostly because, you know, babies. But my interview with the marvelous Sharon Van Etten just went up on the Loose Lips Sink Ships website, accompanying wonderful photographs by the godlike – and indeed, sometimes Modlike – Steve Gullick. I hope you enjoy it – Sharon’s new album is one of the year’s best. Expect further Loose Lips news in the very near future.