Tennyson – Like What EP, brief review

Tennyson are going places, their previous release Lay-by is a work of brilliance, and it’s great to see they’re upping their game, and not allowing themselves to fall into formulae. If you like Stevie Wonder lashed funky chilled electro with hyperactive production and a brilliance when it comes to the gaps between the notes then I think you might like this. They have a style that’s reminiscent of the demo function on an early mass-market keyboard taken through a breakbeat mill and sprinkled with trills of the neo-soul patterns currently littering contemporary electro. Occasionally the sound quality almost feels like muzak, one step ahead of any criticism that can be imparted, they send themselves up in one brilliant post-modern ‘elevator’ moment. Worth your time!

 

The best songs in the world

*cover image

A list of some of the best songs that have ever been created, some not widely known, but all deserving to be.

Enjoy

Nuage & THRN“Don’t Exist” (Dream Box EP: Translation Recordings, 2011)

A vibraphone-driven ethereal, swollen trek through lush lo-fi with hi-fi throbs and soulful, searching vocals. For the head, drum and bass gets no better.

Renu“Time is Time” (Midnight Radio: Holykuti Records, 2012)

A poignant and breathtaking meditation on life, spoken – wordlessly – by a composer of enormous talent. Emotional and spellbinding.

tennyson – “Lay-by” (With You – 7 inch b-side: self-released, 2014)

Head-turning, trance-enducing, car door sampling electronic perfection that picks you up and drops you at exactly the right time.

One Self – “Bluebird” (Children of Possibility: Ninja Tune, 2005)

One of the better known tunes. On its production DJ Vadim, Yarah Bravo and Blu Rum 13 made an underground classic, from an album with a timeless hip hop feel but with an experimental edge. Like truly timeless music, this will breathe new life over and over again, for a long time to come.

Rameses B – “New Horizons (VIP)” (Freedom: self-released, 2011)

A liquid dnb tune that channels the continental trancestep (interpret that as you like) sound tearing its way out of your head into dizzying ecstasy highs with existential exploration to boot. Touchingly dedicated to lost loved ones. On first hearing, nothing that special – but let it in and it’ll show you its full spectrum of wonder. Contains a sample from the 1990 film Jacob’s Ladder.

Algernon Cadwallader – “Casual Discussion in a Dome Between Two Temples” (Some Kind of Cadwallader: Be Happy Records, 2008)

Casual Discussion in a Dome Between Two Temples is a touching and beatiful jangly harmonic noisy piece of musical poetry. Hugely popular as a (now defunct) truly independent and underground band, and performers of a great live show who had one of the loudest drummers I’ve ever heard.

 

Cover image: “Love Music by c0tu” available at http://c0tu.deviantart.com/art/Love-Music-147431685

Fleming and John start a new album on Kickstarter and a little on one of my favourite ever songs – Sadder Day

Fleming and John

Fleming and John are funding a new album on Kickstarter (visit their Facebook page)

If you don’t know who Fleming and John are, I wouldn’t be suprised (speaking as a Brit who is still, just about, in his twenties). They are a couple who wrote wicked music back in the mid to late 90s in Nashville, Tennessee and generally keep themselves busy in the music biz doing a variety of other cool things.

I’d heard Ugly Girl before:

But it was a few years ago when a random internet radio station played ‘Sadder Day’ (song will play on the embedded player below) featuring all manner of instruments from a theremin to a Spacephone that one of my “favourite ever song” slots was filled. It’s deeply poignant and yet twirly and upbeat – which makes it drill that much further into your head. It was recorded in their homebuilt studio using what they describe in their promo video for the album the song appears on ‘The Way We Are’ as being more or less all the instruments. It is a wonderful homage to a time when instruments were recorded and creativity required more than a computer (I don’t say that to be cynical – it’s just when there are bigger, more expensive obstacles to climb to realise a creative vision then it has a natural way of separating the wheat from the chaff). Knowing a little of the back story also allows it to grow into a colourful emotive celebration of music.
 

Some lyrics from the wonderful song (go and buy it):

What about the day you took me to Skatetown USA
It was raining and there wasn't anywhere we could play
We skated backwards as we held on to each other's hand
Made up choreographer to K.C. and the Sunshine Band
You got tired and said you couldn't sleep last night
You stayed up praying for everybody you knows souls
Then you got misty eyed when you said you weren't afraid to die but you were scared of being alone

Sad, Sadder day
Since I heard you went away
Sad, Sadder day
When I can't see your face

If you live in the States you probably get to stream it on Spotify, but I’m unable to here in the UK.

So, I make no promises that the embedded song below is not going to steal your groceries or break your computer – but I clicked it and it worked, so for those without US Spotify, enjoy!

The Staves at The Junction, Cambridge: February 17th 2015

The Staves played the last show of their pre-album launch tour to a warm and well attended J1/ The Junction, Cambridge. The Staves have been around a while now but have only more recently reached my radar. They did this through their 2014 Blood I Bled EP – cue the first subversion of the night: a joke about The Staves merchandise including tampons for the tour.

I am helpless in front of tangential stimulation and the three Staveley-Taylors were full of inspiration in that regard. From a passing comment about pre-ordering being ‘the way’ that one has to buy albums these days I detected a slash of label politics in the background. Add to that the assumption of them being of typical folk persuasion their relevance in a fickle world of music, sub cultures, ‘coolness’ and identity and I would imagine you would have label executives grimacing with potential pounds trickling from their grasp. They’re not exactly unattractive women – put it that way. Thankfully though they aren’t often compared to The Corrs. Ever ‘meta’, they alluded to the idiocy of all such discourse – if you can call it that – including a “fuck Bush!” as well as a gently sardonic promise to be playing not only new (unreleased) material that we’ve clearly not heard before but also their “greatest hits”.

Their forever-place in my heart was set.

The music, including identifiable perfect triple harmonising was polished, practised and brilliant. The rockier newer material had a serious groove, the gentle intimate acoustic songs where the other two gathered around Camilla’s mic ebbed and flowed into the audience. Their appearance could easily be described as demure (though thankfully they are happy to usurp that label) and ethereal yet more than that their performance imparted a true authenticity, beautiful music that spoke from a modern woman’s soul.

It was a great gig. Full of well refined sass, familial unison and a melting of sweetness with banter to produce one of the best sets for not only music, but talking; conversation and discussion between themselves and with the crowd. It was wonderful and a real breath of fresh air after having watched a few shows in recent years where there is no effort whatsoever to engage the crowd. I watched Band of Skulls a few years ago and between every song they allowed for a huge tuning break where they did not talk to the audience at all. It totally killed the vibe. Far from that, The Staves increased the wonder of the event by really, truly, engaging with the audience. Well into the set, Emily introduced the backing band, and Camilla, and somewhere along the line they moved on before she introduced Jessica (the rockier looking one of the three whom I noted in the crowd had attained the label, from a group of men, of the “fittest”) who kindly exclaimed “Oh I have to introduce myself then?” Later Emily turned to the other two and genuinely thanked them for a wonderful tour – to which the others seemed genuinely touched, but in an understated, taken-for-granted sisterly way. It was beautiful to see not just their utmost professionalism with their musicianship, but also their relationship play out before us: Jessica with the electric guitar, Emily with the keyboard setup as the eldest, and Camilla (Milly) the youngest, with an understated beauty, long luscious hair and faintly awkward smile.

They were very, truly absorbing and performed a brilliant set of exceptionally good music.