Bok Bok feat. Kelela – Melba's Call

Having teamed up previously on Kelela’s game changing 2013 mixtape (it’s not a mixtape, it’s an album but let’s not split hairs) for tracks Guns & Synths and A Lie, Bok Bok and Kelela have once again joined forces to deliver a jittery hyper-funk belter – Melba’s Call.

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Kelela’s vocal is soft and playful layered over the shuffle and rumble of Bok Bok’s beat. This is definitely one to crank in the Nova when out on your weekend cruise.

Melba’s Call is released on Bok Bok’s very own Night Slugs on 31 March 2014. Pre-order it here.

Drenge – Drenge

Personally, people in love make me feel warm and fuzzy about the world, maybe because I’m one of those people. Ask the Loveless brothers (Eoin and Rory) though, and you’ll probably get a very different answer. In fact, don’t bother asking them, just listen to the opening track of their debut, self titled album(1).

Drenge

Hailing from Castleton, Derbyshire (population 649, circa 2001) and coming to the stage with nothing more than a drum kit, guitar, array of effects pedals and a “who gives a fuck” attitude, Drenge punch well above their weight with their noise per band member ratio.

I can pick out elements of a lot of bands I’ve obsessed over through years. There are QOTSA tinged drum fills on “Backwaters” and “I Don’t Want To Make Love To You”, a huge slab of Zeppelin at the start of “Gun Crazy” leading into an angst ridden Nirvana breakdown. Morello-esq guitar build ups litter the album. There’s definitely a hint of The Vines too.

Having had the fortune of warming up a recording studio for them in Liverpool before their raucous Sound City performance earlier this year, I’ve become something of a fan boy, a status that peaked when I finally caught them live at The Great Escape in Brighton. Yes, I moshed my way to the front. Yes I stood poised like a panther ready to pounce on its prey(2). Yes I nabbed their set list and a plectrum before swiftly exiting the venue. The performance itself was thick with aggressive pedal smashing (by both parties), lank rocker hair and stooped postures. The execution was the precise mix of looseness and metronome steady rigidity you want from a live grunge/blues outfit.

Back to the opening question. Have a listen to the album in full and you’ll get an even more candid answer from guitarist and vocalist Eoin about his real feelings about people in love(3). Let’s just hope he doesn’t encounter too many such people, it would be a shame if this is all we heard from the young brothers.

Their self titled debut album was released on 19 August 2013 through Infectious. Drenge are touring extensively from September. There’s no excuse to miss them.

(1) “…yuck.”

(2) Alliteration bonus multiplier activated.

(3) “…give up.”

Recent & Recommended

Alongside the peachy weather, we’ve also been treated to a handful of fine long-playing records this Summer. Here’s a quick overview of three that have caught our attention.

Jon Hopkins / Immunity (Domino)

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Jon Hopkins’ background in classical music lends his electronic sound an atmosphere that few other producers can match. Insides, Hopkins’ previous solo LP, flitted between grinding uptempo numbers and score-like tracks. This transition between the two genres is more subtle on Immunity. Opener ‘We Disappear’ comes complete with juddering, coarse beats and an industrial, pulsating clank. This brooding factory of sound is maintained through the next three tracks, culminating with the other worldly ‘Collider’, a tornado of a song which rips along for over nine minutes. Then everything changes. ‘Abandon Window’ offers calm after the storm, showcasing Hopkins’ undoubted talent as a pianist and composer (Hopkins was nominated for an Ivor Novello award for Best Original Score with the soundtrack to the film Monsters). The second half of the album rides out on this contemplative theme. The pace drops off and the beats play a lesser role before the title track brings everything together in one evocative, dream sequence of a song. The thinking man’s dance music.

Gold Panda / Half of Where You Live (Ghostly International)

Gold Panda’s 2010 debut Lucky Shiner really got our attention. The whimsical sounds and exotic samples make it the perfect accompaniment to a long haul flight. Three years on, Gold Panda’s follow up is no less powerful, albeit this time the sound is a little less playful. The textures and layers of sound are almost palpable on ‘Junk City II’ and ‘Brazil’ which bounce along with boundless vim. Gold Panda’s gift is his ability to create a collage of noise that seeps with emotion. As with John Hopkins’ Immunity, the uptempo sound on Half of Where You Live subsides to leave a more introspective vibe. On ‘Flinton’, Gold Panda wields lush strings, Chinese harp and trundling piano to deliver a sumptuous, beautiful song. ‘Enoshima’ continues on this theme, taking us deeper into Gold Panda’s travels while he toured the Lucky Shiner LP. With the album so overtly referencing places of significance to the artist, we’re pretty sure this will be another perfect long haul long-player. Traveller’s delight.

Fat Freddy’s Drop / Blackbird (The Drop)¬†

We were nervous ahead of listening to FFD’s third album. With such an extensive catalogue of dub-infused rollers, would this be a bit ‘samey’ and lack the innovation that made their debut, Based on a True Story, so refreshing? Concerns were heightened after listening to the LP opener, ‘Blackbird’, which feels as though it could have sat on either of the last two albums. However, whereas the other LPs reviewed above start uptempo and then slow down, Blackbird grows and grows, the first single from the album ‘Silver and Gold’ throbbing with rock-influenced electric guitar and Joe Dukie’s rich, unmistakable vocals. The stripped-back ‘Soldier’ stomps along nicely and then reaches a crescendo before taking you back to a heavy head-nod. ‘Never Moving’ is perhaps the most exciting track on the album, a hearty slice of electronica complements FFD’s trademark dub sound and Dukie’s vocals offer a Chicago house-esque opulence. The album rides out with afrobeat and funk influenced tracks ‘Mother Mother’ and ‘Bohannon’, two other sounds FFD blend with their signature style to great success. It turns out Blackbird is indeed innovative and as refreshing as an ice cube down the Y-fronts. Third time’s a charm.

Eye Emma Jedi – Sin

Making your band easily Googleable is a challenge faced by many new bands starting out. You want a name that is unique, catchy, easily spelt and, most importantly, something that won’t be confused for something altogether different when you punch it in to your favourite search engine. An article from earlier this year charted the eight hardest bands to Google and I was pleased to see a personal favourite of mine; Pink, slide in at number eight (her Wikipedia page was the first thing that came up when I tried so I don’t really know what all the fuss is about). Number one on the list was “!!!” who literally cannot be found by simply typing in their name (try it for yourself).

The band I want to talk about today didn’t feature on this list, however I’d say they would be strong contenders should a similar pole be performed in 2014. Pronounced “I am a Jedi”, the spelling is somewhat different – EYE EMMA JEDI. Once you’ve got your head round the phraseology, you can dive into what this band are really about; making serious fun, catchy, indie pop-rock.

Eye Emma Jedi

Hailing from Norway, via Liverpool (guitarists Alex and Andrew attended LIPA, the same educational stable as Mikhael Paskalev and Picture Book drummer Dario Darnell) and London, the band have recently finished recording their debut album in the idyllic Andalucian hillside village of Monda over an epic hundred day stint. What’s more, they catalogued the musical journey in pictures and videos available for you the adoring punter on their various online outlets.

The album is now finished, and so begins the relentless promo schedule which commenced with a German tour. Once again, the footage is available for all to see in four low attention span friendly videos on their Youtube page.

Having completed the German leg of the tour the boys sailed over to the UK to play at Brighton’s Great Escape Festival just over a month ago where Dash ‘n’ Verve were in attendance. A riotous performance ensued packed full of hair, sweat, broken strings (after one song), impromptu lounge jazz to mask the changing of a string, more hair and a final flurry of guitar riffage to finish the enthralled crowd off. My pick of the tracks played on the night was the unquestionably infectious “Sin”. Opening with screaming guitar licks and the bounciest of bass lines, before moving to an almost tropical verse and back into what will certainly be a festival front row scream out loud favourite of a chorus. The video’s just as much of a treat.

Go on, be sinful and indulge in a bit of this on a Saturday afternoon.

Reflections on Coachella

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The advent of low fares, lower expectation airlines has seen a boom in travel to overseas festivals. It’s almost as affordable to take in Primavera in Porto or Exit in Serbia than it is to venture to Glastonbury these days. Moreover, the intrepid explorers us Brits are, we love sampling the festival delights laid on at our European neighbours. Although Nick Grimshaw’s regular attendance means Coachella isn’t exactly an ‘in the know’ festival, it takes a flight to LA and onward transport the 150 miles to Indio’s Empire Polo Club before you can pitch your tent. Here are three reasons why your correspondent thinks it’s worth the effort:
  1. The weather. While the UK endured the Never Ending Winter, the temperatures at Coachella got up to a tasty 30+ degrees. That, mixed with a complete lack of rain, meant no mud. Whatsoever. Indeed, the Polo field grass held up remarkably well, allowing the spectacularly trendy to go bare foot (with others bare chested, save some painted on nipple tassles). Result: a dry, wonderfully comfortable experience.
  2. The design. For starters, you have the option to camp next to your car. No mucking about trying to find a piece of marginal land that you later discover is situated on top of a cess pit. This guarantees you a regulation space and the ability to store valuables in your boot. Then there’s the site itself which, even at capacity, takes a mere 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other. Hardly the Glasto travel hour. Finally, the space is filled with interactive art installations that actually warrant a look. This year, a huge snail wended it’s way around the site at a comically slow pace while ‘Coachella Power Station’ – some dudes in overalls and animal masks confined to a replica energy facility behind glass – entertained the masses with a mixture of high jinx and ‘lightning’ shows. Result: a perfect stage for the music.
  3. The programming. The weather and festival design wouldn’t have counted for much if the music had been so-so. Thankfully, the problem was more who to fit in and who to sacrifice. Our weekend started with one of the many UK artists playing, Beardyman. His boundless talent and decidedly quirky style set the tone for the event, unashamedly finishing with a vocal rendition of gabba for the benefit of those lucky enough to avoid the 200 bpm noise previously. TNGHT and then Blur made the night for me on Friday with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs doing the business on the main stage. All three acts benefited from a strong front man/woman (that was Lunice for TNGHT, who dances at the front of the stage like a member of the crowd). Other highlights were seeing the place erupt when Bauuer himself dropped Harlem Shake, James Blake performing his recent LP Overgrown on a sunny Sunday afternoon¬†and Jamie XX, first delivering a seamless set along with fellow band members Romy and Oliver then playing a huge DJ set in the Yuma tent the next day. Result: happy go lucky punters.

Yes, there are some oddities. Drinking is allowed in beer gardens only, it took hours to get past the security check on the way in and R Kelly was the surprise act, which surprised just about everybody. But these were petty gripes in an otherwise mega festival. Go West.

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