I Prefer The Obscure Remix Blog

And now, the end is near…..

Due to the festive season it’s been pretty quiet of late over at the Obscure Remix HQ. But over the next few days I’ll try and squeeze out another few posts on my musical highlights of 2007 – as requested by Red (my favourite blog of the year), and a few others. I couldn’t possibly comment on the cinematic highlights of the year, I think I only made it to one movie this year – Control. Surprised?

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Zach Condon (Beirut) followed up his fantastic debut, The Gulag Orkester extremely fast, possibly too fast with The Flying Club Cup. Although great, it did not measure up to the emotional and musical high of Gulag. There was however one real gem on FCC, that arguably outshines anything Condon has done so far in his career – Nantes. It illustrates Condon’s talent for songwriting and arranging, and his ability to progress and experiment with new sounds and styles. Basically, it highlights what a precocious young talent Condon is for the future. You have a choice of three versions here. The latest is his performance on Jools Holland with a full band. Thankfully Jools restrained himself from joining in on his honkytonk piano. Wouldn’t you be gutted if you were in a band that got on to Later with Jools – surely a common milestone and dream for many a band – only to find that Jools had requested to play with you. How could you say no? It’s kinda like that time Morrissey and Bowie fell out. Morrissey was supporting Bowie on tour, but at the end of his set each night, Bowie would invite himself onstage and join Morrissey for his last song. Then Bowie would launch into his own set, thus depriving Morrissey of a final applause, and essentially steal Morrissey’s thunder. Morrissey eventually walked out on the tour, no surprise there. I wonder would Arcade Fire have the balls to do the same. Anyway, enjoy Nantes, one of my songs of the year.

Then you have a promo video shot in Brooklyn by the guys over at La Blogotheque. They filmed a different scene for each song off The Flying Club Cup, and it’s rather good.

And finally, my favourite. A street scene, and a seemingly impromptu performance, although it is actually for the Take Away Show. It’s not often you get to see established bands slumming it on the streets, and turning in engaging performances, but this works. I particularily like the drummer, and his use of the recycling bins.

Happy New Year to everybody that visited and commented over the last few months, and all the best for ’08.

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December 31, 2007 Posted by | Beirut, Jools Holland, Music, Nantes | 2 Comments

Lay Sah-vee Fahv

In a bid to elaborate on my end of year album/song charts, I’m going to highlight a few, erm….highlights from the year. First up was Matthew Dear. And now, another band that made it into both charts, Les Savy Fav. I have to admit, at the start of the year I knew little or nothing about these guys. I always heard people referring to them as a second rate Fugazi, but reports from an ATP festival earlier this year suggested they were alot more than this. Within a week of that festival their new album had landed on my desk, and I never looked back. Let’s Stay Friend’s is LSF’s 4th studio album, arriving unexpectedly as rumours circulated that the band had called it a day – the title obviously a dig at the conjecture and gossip surrounding the band’s future. Their American label, Frenchkiss Records was set up by LSF bassist Syd Butler to put out their own records initially, but the label has gone on to release work by bands such as The Hold Steady, The Apes, The Big Sleep, Thunderbirds Are Now!, and Tangiers, but the UK/Irish release of Let’s Stay Friend’s was handled by Wichita Recordings.

In my opinion, LSF will remain one of the most memorable bands of 2007 for many reasons. Their live show in Crawdaddy was without doubt one of the finest this year. Raucous, thrilling, energetic, euphoric, sweaty, unpretentious, and downright entertaining! I posted about it at the time, and there’s some footage on there too that sums up the night accurately. It took ten years off me, in a good way that is. Track 4 on Let’s Stay Friends, Patty Lee made it into my Top 10 of the year. The video is posted below, and I imagine it’ll make it into next year’s poll also, as it’s set for a February ’08 release. My patient friend and bandmate had to endure this song on constant repeat for a solid hour on a recent trip back from a very bizarre gig in a scout hall in Kilcoole. In my defence I’d had a few, it was my birthday, and I was stuck in the passenger seat of a car on the M50 heading in the wrong direction! It will be backed by The Sweat Descends, an older but amazing track that featured on the collection of singles released a few years ago, Inches.

Enjoy, check out the album, and definitely catch them live if you can.

December 12, 2007 Posted by | French Kiss Records, Les Savy Fav, Music, Patty Lee, Wichita Recordings | 2 Comments

OMG…OMM

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I remember a time when the most comforting antidote to a Sunday hangover was The Observer Music Monthly. But the standard/content has rapidly gone downhill over the year. Yes, once we get to December we can expect the usual charts and polls that we’re all guilty of, but I’m quite surprised by their choice of features/interviews. Is it just me, or has it turned into Smash Hits? An Arctic Monkey photo diary, a Radiohead interview by the fans, Miranda Sawyer’s gushing piece on Amy Winehouse, and Mika….MIKA, as Man of the Year?! Do i care for pictures of Alex Turner on the beach? No. Is it time we stopped talking about Amy Winehouse? Of course, stop looking for the new Pete Doherty. Letting a bunch of fan(atic)s interview their favourite band isn’t really gonna enlighten us any further on the subject, it’s downright boring. As for Mika, I’m just lost for words. I don’t understand how we can live in a world where 4 million people think this stuff passes for music, and are willing to part with the price of a CD for it – a far more baffling and larger statistic than the number of people who downloaded In Rainbows for free. Am I the only person who finds that ‘Big girl, you are beautiful’ song really patronizing and totally calculated? I could argue with the Album and Single charts but what’s the point, it’s all subjective, and as valid as the next chart or poll. But I did expect more from the rest of the mag. Even the quiz provided little respite, I was baffled most of the time.

OMM…RIP

They also printed a current chart of UK bestselling albums for the year 2007, which is unlikely to change between now and Christmas.

1. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

2. Mika – Life In Cartoon Motion

3. Take That – Beautiful World

4. Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare

5. Leona Lewis – Spirit

6. Kaiser Chiefs – Yours Truly Angry Mob

7. Snow Patrol – Eyes Open

8. Nelly Furtado – Loose

9. Mark Ronson – Version

10. Justin Timberlake – Future Sex/Lovesounds

So what a year it was! Out of the 10 bestselling albums, 5 were actually released in 2006. Of the other 5, Ronson’s record is a collection of cover versions, Leona Lewis is an X-Factor contestant, Arctic Monkeys are the only band signed to an indie label, Kaiser Chiefs probably sold way less than their debut Employment did, and the other one is bloody Mika.

I despair, I really do. Music…RIP, or should that be rip music.

Actually, I own 3 of these albums, and they’re great!

🙂

December 11, 2007 Posted by | Album Sales, Music, Observer Music Monthly | 5 Comments

Witness the fitness

So now that the dreaded poll is out of the way, I’ll get on with highlighting some rather excellent moments from the year 2007. Witness the complete transformation of Matthew Dear from darling of the minimal/techno fraternity to pure unadulterated pop star. I imagine he’s being fitted for leather pants right now as i type. In my opinion, Dear has been consistently brilliant for a number of years. Ever since I got my hands on his first album – also a classic – Leave Luck to Heaven, I’ve been hooked. His more minimal/experimental material crops up under his False moniker, and his tougher acid tinged techno can be found in the Audion or Jabberjaw section. The Audion singles on Spectral are a particular career highlight. Dear’s latest album, Asa Breed is truly splendid, and varied. It polarised his fanbase, as techie kids couldn’t really get their heads around it. “What?! Guitar?! On a dance record?!” But the beauty of Dear is that he always had bigger aspirations than most of his contemporaries. The vocal tracks on LLTH were all exceptional and an indication of where his sound was heading. At least he’s had the decency to split his different projects up with several names, so as not confuse the techie kids altogether.

My favourite track on Asa Breed – Don & Sherri – just happens to be one of my tunes of the year. This track really got inside my head, because my better half also took to this album as much as I did. It was one of the few things we managed to agree on this year musically, so it got some heavy rotation in our place. So in honour of her – and as I totally ruined her night last night -here’s the vid for Don and Sherri.

From what I’ve heard, this track also made it onto a commercial in the States or Canada.

December 7, 2007 Posted by | Albums of the Year, Audion, Don & Sherri, Matthew Dear, Music, Songs of the Year | 2 Comments

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice…

So, we’re coming to the end of another year and it’s time to get those charts in order. So what was 2007 like? Well, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Some amazing albums were released, but album sales dropped dramatically in general, and ticket prices went up more than we could ever have expected. But I’m not getting into any of that now. So I skipped through my iPod to have a look at everything I added for the entire year, and this is what I came up with. It’s by no means definitive, as there’s still a massive pile of albums I still haven’t put on my iTunes, and then there’s everything I bought on vinyl. I know I’ve forgotten a few things, but this will have to do for now.

Pop over to Pedro’s fabulous blog for his chart, and Matt Vinyl has just posted his favourite 7″ purchases for the year. I’m also looking forward to seeing what Nialler, Red, Jim, Billy Lyons, and Sinead deem worthy of inclusion on that all important Christmas list. Please leave some recommendations based on my choices, I’m sure there’s loads of albums I’ve missed out on this year that are essential. Happy reading!

Albums of the Year (in no particular order, but kind of really)

MIA – Kala

Matthew Dear – Asa Breed

Menomena – Friend and Foe

Cadence Weapon – Breaking Kayfabe

Le Loup – The Throne…

Beirut – The Flying Club Cup

Les Savy Fav – Let’s Stay Friends

Colleen – Les Ondes Silencieuses

Adrian Crowley – Long Distance Swimmer

Dan Deacon – Spiderman Of The Rings

Songs of the Year

MIA – Bamboo Banga

Battles – Atlas

Matthew Dear – Don & Sherri

Le Loup – Planes and Vultures

Les Savy Fav – Patty Lee

Beirut – Nantes

Menomena – Wet and Rusting

Dan Deacon – Wham City

LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends

MIA – Paper Planes

 

Special mention must also go to Pantha Du Prince, O’Death, Apparat, Taken By Trees, Adjagas, Panda Bear, Holy Fuck, Explosions in the Sky, Gui Boratto, Battles, Deerhunter, Amiina, Mice Parade, Bat for Lashes, Vector Lovers, Elektrons, The National, Fog, Malajube, LCD Soundsystem, Two Lone Swordsmen, Besnard Lakes, Arcade Fire, The Field, Murcof, Shape of Broad Minds, Silje Nes, Efterklang, Modeselektor, Nina Nastasia, Von Sudenfed, Ungdomskulen, Caribou, and Michael Fakesch.

2007, a rather fine vintage.

 

 

 

 

December 7, 2007 Posted by | Albums of the Year, Music, Songs of the Year | 10 Comments

Menomena, doo doo, de doo doo

Pesky deadlines have prevented me from posting recently, but that’s all over now, I’m back! Since then, Jape has managed to rack up a rather impressive, thoroughly deserving 3/4’s of a million views on youtube for his new video to accompany the release of Floating. Go on Richie! Well, there’s no point posting that vid now really, but to continue the theme of food, fruit, food fights (nope, still a rather tenuous link) here’s the video for Rotten Hell from the fabulous Menomena. I’ve been screaming about this band for quite some time now. Hell, back in the day when Pedro and I were thinking of starting a label they were one of his first choices (so the credit should go to him). Their latest album Friend and Foe is a complete masterpiece. I must be right about this because Pitchfork said so too and they’re never wrong, it’s been scientifically proven or it’s in the Geneva Convention, I forget which. Enjoy.

I just finished a review of the new Silje Nes album on Fatcat for Totally Dublin, and it’s really lovely. Definitely worth checking out. The album that is, not my review.

November 28, 2007 Posted by | Menomena, Music, Rotten Hell, Video | Leave a comment

My New Favourite Blog

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I’ve really gotten into the Pampelmoose blog lately. It’s updated daily by Dave Allen, the bass player from Gang of Four, but it’s not about Gang of Four exclusively. Allen posts mp3’s, podcasts, and generally talks a good game on a broad range of subjects. I have to say I was quite surprised by his diverse taste in music. He’s also pretty honest and savvy when it comes to the ‘industry’. Most of all though, I admire his decision to put up demo recordings of the new songs that G4 are currently working on. A brave move, and ultimately a very wise one I think. I find myself checking in regularly to catch up on the latest G4 news, listening to his recommendations, and keeping an eye on what’s going on in the Portland music scene (the next Toronto/Berlin I reckon). Allen’s blog is quite balanced and informative, and you get the feeling he’s also learning alot himself as he’s going along. He’s not afraid to embrace new technology, methods of communication, and ultimately, innovative new ways to promote, distribute, and market his band/music. It takes alot of guts and confidence to make the rough demos of new tracks available to the general public. Reaction and criticism will no doubt be varied, but it’s a unique experience for me, that much I can say. This is the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity to engage with a band during the writing/recording process. It’s not a party we’re generally invited too, and it’s all the more interesting because it’s Gang of Four. I feel they have alot more to lose than most bands by releasing new material, as their early recordings are so revered, and so relevant over the last few years. It would be much easier for them to just milk their back catalogue via the live circuit, but I don’t see that happening. So get yourselves over there and have a listen to what is going on in the world of G4. You never know, you may play a part in shaping some of the new material.

It was on Pampelmoose I first read about the Band of Horses standoff with corporate bad boys Wal Mart, and Allen had some interesting views on this also. I’m sure Pitchfork and Brooklyn Vegan got there way ahead of him, but I like the fact that it was Dave Allen who informed me, and it’ll probably be a long time before the novelty of Dave answering my comments wears off.

A fine blog.

November 24, 2007 Posted by | Blog, Dave Allen, Gang of Four, Music | Leave a comment

No! Stop it Dad. You’re embarrassing me! Part 2

I’ve been up to my eyes, but dying to write some stuff for the last week. I’ll be back soon though, with lots of irrelevant posts.

It’s getting near the end of year poll time too, and my mind is racing already. So many choices! Will it be MIA, will it be Menomena, will it be Matthew Dear, who knows. Watch this space. For now, I’ll leave you with this fine piece of footage that fits rather well beside the Peter Hook post from a few weeks ago. Now that MIA is cancelled, there’s a gap in my diary. And what better way to fill it than Duran Duran on December 5th in the Phoenix Park Marquee. I still remember winning a music quiz in school when I was 9. My teacher granted me one wish, any album I wanted I could have. I went for Seven And The Ragged Tiger by Duran Duran. It was 1984, and The Reflex was unavoidable. The jacket, the video, the water, the glove, the mullets, the remix even! It was like nothing I’d ever seen or heard before. When people talk about great British singles bands, Duran Duran rarely get a mention. Their releases from the 90’s on should be completely disregarded, but up until then you can’t really argue with them (can you?).

Girl’s On Film, Rio, Hungry Like The Wolf, Save A Prayer, Is There Something I Should Know, Planet Earth, Union Of The Snake, The Reflex, Wild Boys, Notorious, and A View To A Kill, all hit singles in the 80’s.

Talking to a friend last night at the Caribou show in Whelan’s (great gig), he tipped me off about what to expect on December 5th. And here it is!

Did they destroy their cred in the 90’s? Did they ever have any? Will they have any after this? Who knows? But I can’t wait, it’ll be hilarious!

So much for the post on why I love Soul Jazz Records so much. That’ll have to wait for another day. Back soon….

November 22, 2007 Posted by | Duran Duran, Music, Phoenix Park | 7 Comments

Over and Out(put)

Many months ago I wrote a review of a forthcoming Output compilation, V/A – I Hate Music. The review ran in Totally Dublin at the time, but the CD never got a release. Well, I’m glad to announce that it’s finally out today in the UK, so it probably came out last Friday in Ireland. This is quite an interesting release, as Output Recordings ceased trading over a year ago. In a rather explosive press release to Pitchfork last September, label boss and founder Trevor Jackson cited several reasons for this decision. Here’s a link to the full statement, it’s an interesting read.

I was a massive fan of a french artist signed to the label, Colder. Marc Nguyen Tan made two great albums for Output, Again (2003) and Heat (2005). I bought Again in the fabulous Road Records pretty much on the basis of the cover, and a quick skip through a few tracks on the deck. With the demise of Output, several artists and bands were left homeless. At the time I assumed Colder would be snapped up by some trendy label, but it’s been impossible to locate any information about the elusive Nguyen Tan. I know he’s a really well respected graphic designer and video producer in France, so maybe he’s returned to his day job, but if anyone knows anything about future releases, or if you are better at searching google than I am (which is very probable), do drop me a line. Here’s the video of a track off Heat, called To The Music. One of his finest moments, and best experienced on the dancefloor, VERY loud.

And for what it’s worth, here’s that review from Totally Dublin’s May issue.

Output Recordings: 1996-2007 RIP.

Various Artists – I Hate Music (Output Recordings)

Steady on Trevor! Surely this is some kind of mistake? You couldn’t possibly hate music. Look at all the evidence! For years you’ve recorded as Playgroup, and churned out remixes under the moniker Underdog. Your record label, Output Recordings, is one of the most respected and revered, fiercely independent, forward thinking UK labels of the last decade. And if that’s not enough, whatever small amount of spare time you have is spent designing award-winning record sleeves for friends and cohorts. You hate music? Rubbish!

Oh, hold on, what’s this piece of paper on the floor?

Headline: ‘Trevor Jackson’s Output Recordings Calls It Quits’.

In a statement to Pitchfork late last year, Jackson announced he was shutting down his label immediately. Why? Simple. He hates music. To quote the man, ‘Running a record label started as fun and ended up as a nightmare. I saw people I thought were my friends turn into monsters…individuals I thought were affiliates stab me in the back without even thinking twice…I never wanted to have all my passion and enthusiasm knocked out of me, but somehow it’s happened’. The loss of Output probably won’t even register on the industry’s radar. However, those of you who think they discovered artists such as Four Tet, The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, Colder, Zongamin, Black Strobe, and MU, well you’re wrong. Jackson found them all first, and gave most of them their initial break. ‘I Hate Music’ is definitive proof, and clearly illustrates the importance and impact this label had on the last decade of independent music and movements. It is a fitting end, and worthy tribute. From jazz tinged electronica to punk funk, electro disco to new wave, garage rock to experimental techno, Output had it all, and always had it first. This compilation is virtually a snapshot of the coolest party ever thrown, and practically essential. But if you’re curious as to who some of the backstabbing sycophants and monsters may be, look no further than those who didn’t receive an invite to this final of final parties. There is one glaring omission.

November 13, 2007 Posted by | Colder, Music, Output Recordings | 5 Comments

The future is bright, the future is….Omnichord

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My good friend over at Experimental Audio Studio recently invested in an Omnichord from e-bay. It arrived yesterday, and when we got to the studio it became an instant hit! I fear we may have to scrap all the work that went into our new album, and start fresh. I’m thinking something more along the lines of this, but it’s gonna be a long time before we reach the standard set by this guy. He’s in a league of his own!

According to Wikipedia – An Omnichord is an electronic musical instrument manufactured by the Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation. It typically features a touch plate and numerous chord buttons. The most basic method of playing the instrument is to press the chord buttons, and strum the touch plate. Omnichords often feature preset rhythms with a tempo control which the player may use as accompaniment. Other features may include a selection of voices, and effects such as vibrato and sustain, as well as a chord memory in more advanced models.

All hail the Omnichord!

November 8, 2007 Posted by | Music, Omnichord | 3 Comments