26 June 2012

Tuesday Tune: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - AKA... What A Life!

24 June 2012

Retro Review: The Streets - Original Pirate Material

As part of HI! Magazine's Retro Review series, I've cast an eye back to The Streets' 2002 debut album Original Pirate Material. Read all about it here.

19 June 2012


I am giving the RailMiles service a go to log my train travels. It's a web-based journey log made by Tom Cairns which allows you to record rail travel in the UK, including traction if you're into that sort of thing. Apparently I've done 3,400 miles since the start of the year, mostly travelling from Manchester down to Kent and back :O

If you're interested you can see an example RailMiles log (mine) at telstarbox.railmiles.org.

Tuesday Tune: Public Enemy - Don't Believe The Hype

11 June 2012

Album Review: Hot Chip - In Our Heads

At a time where genres are less rigid and less relevant than ever, the latest album by five awkward-looking men and their synths will appeal to many - In Our Heads is accessible without compromising on intelligence. The record begins with a disorientating combination of pitch-bent synthesisers and mad brass on ‘Motion Sickness’. ‘How Do You Do’ has a studious introduction thrown off-balance by sunny vocals plundered from Take That and a playful break section. ‘Don’t Deny Your Heart’ is another upbeat track with naively glossy synths and an MGMT-esque chorus. It contrasts completely with the slow soul on ‘Look at Where We Are’, where each line of the chorus slots beautifully into the next.

The second half of the album develops a more intimate, end-of-the night feel; ‘Flutes’ is an incredible track, moving into classic trance and feeling divorced from the dancefloor before the “One day you might realise/that you need to open your eyes” refrain. Now and again the lyrics lack inspiration - ‘Let Me Be Him’ being a notably weak spot, and the group should have managed better than the anthemic chorus here which sounds like The Killers with a drum machine. Despite this, the following passage of glockenspiel and birdsong is exquisite, as are the jangly piano and bluesy guitar echoes which wash perfectly out of the speakers, and provide a musical link to Joe Goddard’s side project The 2 Bears.

The band’s broad range of influences, from David Bowie to Timbaland to mean there is still sufficient variation, from downbeat house - ‘These Chains’ to apocalyptic Casio keyboards on ‘Ends of the Earth’. In Our Heads occasionally sounds derivative, and it’s not a giant leap from their ‘Ready for the Floor’-era work. But even if some of the tracks would have been acceptable in the 80s, it’s worth listening to in 2012.