Tag Archive: Primal Scream


This is a monthly feature where classic and cult albums are revisited and reassessed for the modern listener. The only rule is that it must be a critically acclaimed or cult record released before 2000.

Happy Mondays – “Thrills, Pills and Bellyaches” (Factory Records, 1990)

Back in March of this year with covered Primal Scream’s “Screamadelica” in this very column as it’s celebrated its 20th anniversary. This month’s selection for Classics Critiqued preceded “Screamadelica” by nearly a year and has many similarities. The Happy Mondays and Primal Scream both belonged to the same baggy/indie-dance scene and were fans of the emerging club scene. The main difference was that the Happy Mondays had always been involved in club culture playing their début gig at the Hacienda club in Manchester in 1983. The album was the bands third following shambolic début album “Squirrel And G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)” (1987) and the dark cavernous funk of “Bummed” (1988). Throughout 1989 the bands profile had risen with the success of singles ‘Lazyitis (One Armed Boxer)’ and a dance remix of ‘Wrote For Luck’ (from “Bummed”) by DJ Paul Oakenfold. In November 1989 the band make their Top of the Pops début alongside fellow Manchester baggy/indie-dance figureheads The Stone Roses in what would become a watershed moment for both bands and the U.K. music scene. They finished the year in fine style with the “Madchester Rave On – The Remixes” EP featuring remixes by Andrew Weatherall and Paul Oakenfold among others. Suddenly the band was riding a wave of critical acclaim and hype where before they were widely written off or thought as joke.

“Thrills, Pills and Bellyaches” opens with the swaggering ‘Kinky Afro’ one of bands biggest singles, the song uses a snippet of ‘Lady Mamalade’ by LaBelle as its foundation and layers of slinky guitar riffs, disco strings and deep bass all topped off with band leader Shaun Ryder’s lurid tale of a night of the tiles. The “gutter snipe funkadelia” continues on ‘God’s Cop’ Ryder proclaiming “God made easy on me” as he takes a part Manchester police’ lax attitude towards the drug laws they should have been up holding. Elsewhere ‘Loose Fit’ “is a magnificent mirage, its golden riff simmering over sultry, low riding rhythms” and lyrics that celebrate the baggy clothing and loose life style of band and its followers. For the album’s mid section of ‘Dennis & Lois’ and ‘Bob’s Yer Uncle’ the band relaxes the pace and the sound lightens up and a soft focus 70’s vibe takes over temporarily. Then it’s the band’s revamping of obscure 70’s hit single “He’s Gonna Step On You’ by John Kongo the band’s re-titled version ‘Step On’ by the band their version hit No.5 in the charts and cemented their dance music credentials with its house style piano riff. The album finishes with the slide guitar and organ heavy ‘Harmony’ this takes the album out on a laid back but ecstatic note and ends suddenly which seems a deliberate attempt to keep the album to exactly 45 minutes so it fits on one side of a cassette. This was ideal for those who wanted to share music with their friends and may also be another nod to the Ryder and dancer Bez’s past as lawless youths.

The band was always painted as a chaotic mess of sound and that it was their producers that bought out the best in them. Martin Hannett’s production on “Bummed” is often acclaimed, however I feel his heavy use of echo and reverb, particular on the drums, doesn’t suit the Happy Monday’s funk grooves. Oakenfold and Osbourne open the sound out and let the band fly, particular during the first half of the album which fly’s by. On “Thrills, Pills and Bellyaches” it seems as if producers Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osbourne play a key role in the sound, and construction of the songs. It’s not just that they made the link to dance music more explicit they took the band’s strong points and magnified them. Like ‘Screamadelica’ it’s the producers used of samplers and (to a less extent) synths that marks the album out from other similar albums released during the same era. The producers take the best takes and parts of takes and combine them with samples from their own and the Happy Monday’s record collection to literally construct the songs. Oakenfold and Osbourne are even credited as arrangers on the albums sleeve.

Over the years it has always seemed as if the Happy Mondays operated in the shadow of their fellow Mancunian ‘baggy’ figureheads the Stone Roses. While it’s true the Stone Roses exuded charisma, I think it is wrong to say that the Stone Roses always had the best tunes. On “Thrills, Pills and Bellyaches” alone there are ten examples of the Happy Mondays mastery of their genre, add to this ‘Lazyitis’, ‘Wrote For Luck’, ‘Tart Tart’, ‘Stinkin’ Thinkin’’, ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘24 Hour Party People’ and you could argue the bands are at least equal. While it’s true Ryder could rarely hold a vocal melody, Ian Brown’s deliver wasn’t always that much better, though he could rise to the majority of challenges on their début album. I genuinely believe this historical imbalance needs redressing.

Since its release “Thrills, Pills and Bellyaches” has received various accolades including featuring in Q magazine’s 100 Greatest British Albums Ever in 2000, where it reached number 31. Then in 2005 it was voted the 51st greatest album of all time in a Channel 4 poll. In 2007 it was reissued by Rhino Records with extra tracks and a DVD of music videos, in some ways this seems appropriate as in 2007 the UK was on the verge of a financial crisis that has since caused the mass unemployment and lack of jobs that the members of the Happy Mondays had experienced back when they formed in 1981. There are no duff tracks on this glorious rush of an album, just give it a spin!

Listen to “Thrills, Pills and Bellyaches” here:

Happy Mondays – Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches

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March was a slightly disappointing month overall. For a start I’ve been unable to even hear more than a minute of the tracks on John Foxx and The Maths – ‘Interplay’, which I was looking forward to hearing and has received many good reviews. If I’m able to check this out later this year I will feature it in a future “2011: Through my biased eyes”.

The biggest disappointment that I did get to hear was Micachu and The Shapes live collaboration with the London Sinfonietta “Chopped and Screwed”. I have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect from this combination but despite creating a dark and heavy atmosphere on many of tracks that helped glue the album together there was almost always something missing. There were moments that rose to the occasion, “Low Dogg” was the highlight with its massive stabby string riffs that pushed this great stomper of a track along. Having the best and clearest chorus/vocal melody of the album compliments it perfectly. It’s certainly an intriguing album and it may well grow on me. I found that by the third listen I was warming more to its Peter and The Wolf meets ramshackle percussion and skewed electronica vibe. If  this sounds up your street check it out, but I feel it may be  an acquired taste.

Another album that presented a novel concept was Cornershop and Bubbley Kaur’s (a previously unknown Punjabi folk singer from London) “The Double O Groove of”. The idea was simple: use Punjabi folk’s melodic and harmonic ideas combined with lo-fi hip-hop beats with the added twist that Punjabi folk is usually written by men about women but these songs are written from the female standpoint. This translates very well on 60% of the album ‘The Biro Pen’ with  its killer piano licks and Motown guitar and the infectious ‘Topknot’ are particular highlights. However, 40% (‘Don’t Shake It’, ‘Once There Was a Wintertime’, ‘Double Decker Eyelashes’, ‘9/11 Curry’) really lets the side down, the high’s are dizzying and the lows are in the doldrums – insipid and uninspiring.

This month’s salvation comes in the form of “Toomorrow” by Wagon Christ aka Luke Vibert. It would be easy to dismiss this album as a repetition of everything (quirky vocal samples, jazzy breaks, hip-hop beats, Rhodes piano, acid squelches – all thrown in Vibert’s psychedelic blender) that Vibert has done before as Wagon Christ and there is some truth to that. However, he has produced an eclectic album full of great tracks (there’s not a duffer to be found) that will please long term fans and those new to this long term dance music fixture. For fans of the most esoteric output by Ninja Tune, Warp and Planet Mu!!

You can read my Classic’s Critiqued of Primal Scream’s “Screamadelica” here and I will cover Dadawah’s ‘Peace and Love” at some point after I’ve bought it later this month. Until then I managed find a track from the album on Spotify and add it to the March playlist below.

Spotify playlist:

March playlist

Coming up this month on Sonic Fiction:

MP3 Mix Madness: A mix of song combinations that have occurred on my MP3 player when set to Shuffle in last 18 months.

Classic’s Critiqued – “Y” by The Pop Group – critics love it, but it’s rarely mentioned outside of reviews of reissues and almost never referenced as an influence by bands. I explore why and more…

April Recommendations

Moon Duo – “Mazes” (Souterrain Transmissions) 4th April

This is one of three April releases I’ve already heard (the others are Low’s “C’mon” and TV on the Radio’s “Nine Types of Light”) and I throughly recommend them all. I first stumbled on Moon Duo (Ripley Johnson of Wooden Shijps side project with his partner, Sanae Yamada -on keyboards) late last year and liked what I heard. On this their début album proper they take things up a couple of levels.They fashion a great combination of Motown, The Velvets, Neu!, garage rock and Spacemen 3 and yet even with all those retro references the album sounds fresh and exciting. Moon Duo revitalise rock music when it seemed (for the most part) to be beyond the pale.

Low – “C’mon” (Sub Pop) 11th April

A great album that demonstrates Low experimenting with poppier sounds on the first half of the album and ‘Something Turning Over’ while the reminder of the album revisits older sounds and influences but does so while providing some great songs. Some Low fans won’t (and don’t) like the poppier material but I think it can be seen as another string to their bow and not a conscious attempt to sell out. This is not a band producing Top Ten hits, but one dripping its toe into unknown waters and successful completing an experiment. The fact this album was recorded in a Duluth (Low’s home town) church gives the slow more open tracks and fantastic atmosphere and ambience and complaints some great songs.

Ponytail – ‘Do Whatever You Want All The Time’ (We Are Free) 11th April

I don’t know a lot about Ponytail but listened to guitarist and founder Dustin Wong’s first solo album last year and was an interesting if not wholly satisfying work. However their new track “Easy Peasy” is very impressive as is the artwork by Eye from the Boredoms, so I’ll be checking this out.

TV on the Radio – ‘Nine Types of Light’ (Polydor) 11th April

Refreshed from their hiatus TV on the Radio return with what I believe is a mellow flipside to the intense but upbeat “Dear, Science”, the atmosphere is relaxed without being horizontal or turning into wallpaper music. The band hasn’t lost its personality, it’s just represent a different side of it. I was surprised that ‘Will Do’ was the first track they allowed people to listen to but now it makes a lot of sense within the albums context. Prince and “Speaking In Tongues” by Talking Heads seem good reference points, as does some modern R&B music. Highlights are the slow burning ‘Killer Crane’,‘New Cannonball Blues’ Prince style falsetto and quick, dirty funk guitar and superb opener ‘Second Song’.

tUnEyArDs – ‘w h o k i l l’ (4AD) 18th April

This is tUnEyArDs first step into the world of big studio production after her no-fi début album ‘BiRd-BrAiNs’. The single ‘Bizness’ was a first slice of upbeat ukulele driven pop. I’ve not heard anything else from the album but early reviews suggest vocals feed through modular synths and a strong World music influence across the album. An intriguing blend if even there was one.

Dennis Coffey – ‘Dennis Coffey’ (Strut) 25th April – Detroit funk legend returns with a guest filled new album that celebrates the music of the city. More info at Strut Records.

Prefuse 73 – ‘The Only She Chapters’ (Warp) 25th April

This album marks a significant development in Prefuse’s approach to music-making – this is very much a compositional, as opposed to loop-based, work. He also calls upon the vocal talents of several different female artists, most notably Broadcast’s late Trish Keenan and neo-goth torch singer Zola Jesus, but also Faidherbe, Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Nico Turner and Niki Randa. As its title suggests, this is an album that foregrounds and explores the idea of the feminine, right down to the artwork, which comes courtesy of illustrator Yuko Michishita.

Classics Critiqued

This is a monthly feature where classic and cult albums are revisited and reassessed for the modern listener. The only rule is that it must be a critically acclaimed or cult record released before 2000.

Primal Scream – “Screamadelica” (1991, Creation Records)


For this month’s Classics Critiqued I’ve chosen what is often viewed as the album of the rave era: Primal Scream’s “Screamadelica”. The album rescued the band from a potential split, won them the first Mercury Music Prize in 1992 and has been included on nearly every Best Albums of All Time list for the last 20 years. Earlier this month the album was given a grand 20th anniversary reissue complete with a replica tour t-shirt, DJ slipmat, 50 page Perfect bound book, DVD documentary and two bonus CDs. I will explore the album’s creation, its legacy and the influence its groundbreaking fusion of styles has had on music since.

The album began life in 1988 when the band’s manager, label boss and lifelong friend Alan McGee took Bobby Gillespie (vocals), Robert ‘Throb’ Young (guitar) and Andrew Innes (guitar) clubbing to experience the Rave/Acid House phenomenon that had started to sweep through the UK that same year. Being punk purists at heart they were unimpressed at first but further visits revealed to them a new revolutionary sound that could replace the “sexless, ambitionless” indie rock that their peers were playing. As the band immersed themselves in this new life style three pivotal albums were released which proved guitars and dance beats were meant to go together:  “Bummed” (1988) and “Thrills, Pills and Bellyaches” (1990) by the Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses’ self titled debut album from 1989. These albums contained similar elements to those that would feature in Primal Scream’s larger melting pot. The Happy Mondays mixed funk’s groove and swagger, Shaun Ryder’s poet laureate lyrics and snatches of riffs and rhythms stolen from disco, soul and pop classics of the ‘60s and ‘70s in their albums’ psychedelic stew that stirred a nation from its slumber. Meanwhile the Roses sound was slimmer and slicker but still grooved like James Brown (‘Fool’s Gold’ wholly lifted the ‘Funky Drummer’ breakbeat). Primal Scream were obviously listening as they worked for 18 months on an album that surpassed both these bands finest efforts.

“Screamadelica” is an album that chimed in so well with the time that it should sound dated, as much of the rave era music does now due to the genre’s cheesy sounds, which have been superseded by the constant forward march of technology. A common misperception of the release is that it is a rave album as opposed to an album influenced by rave music’s spirit. Bobby Gillespie has recently pointed out, (the) “three big albums for the acid house crowd were “Screamadelica”, the Monday’s “Pills ‘N’ Thrills” and The Stone Roses’ first album, and none of them really were acid house. They were rock albums that had a dance feel. We had never wanted to do a straight-up, out-and-out dance record either. Ten banging piano dance tracks would have been boring. The piano on ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’ isn’t like that. It’s not Italian piano house, its more Jelly Roll Morton – sexy, slinky.”

If further proof was needed “Screamdelica” begins with ‘Movin’ On Up’, an homage to the sound of the Rolling Stones. It was produced by Jimmy Miller who had produced the Stones from “Beggars Banquet” (1968) to Goats Head Soup” (1973). It is followed by an acid house take on acid rock pioneers The 13th Floor Elevators classic ‘Slip Inside This House’. The album’s centrepiece (and penultimate song, there are two versions) ‘Higher Than The Sun’ is a sprawling dub track featuring ex- Public Image Limited bassist Jah Wobble and production by chill-out room favourites The Orb. A majority of the songs are underpinned by deep funk bass lines and the album’s title hints at the influence of psychedelic-funk innovators Parliament-Funkadelic. Also there’s its most laid back moments are the “country-rock pastiche” of ‘Damaged’ and ‘Shine Like Stars’” twinkling comedown.

This melting pot of musical fusions could have become an overcooked mess were it not for Primal Scream’s skilful writing team of Gillespie, Innes and Young and the talent of their celebrated co-producer Andrew Weatherall (whose remix of ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’, renamed ‘Loaded’, launched the album properly in 1990) and programmer Bill Nicholson (music technology was still a complex and unpredictable beast 20 years ago). The combination of revolutionary technology and technique was matched with Primal Scream reaching previously unimaginable levels of song writing. They were transformed from a run of the mill indie-rock band to creators of songs that still resonate today and may do so well into the future, thanks in part to the reissue of “Screamadelica”.

“Screamadelica” cannot claim a direct influence on individual acts as it’s an album that is unique, a true one off. Its influence has instead been to inspire what Gillespie has described as “deconstructing the band!” defying barriers between rock and dance music and ideas. Without “Screamadelica” there would be no LCD Soundsystem or The Rapture and Asian Dub Foundation would not have found favour with an accepting media and audience. In 1991 there was no dominant alternative music scene in the UK (coincidently Nirvana’s equally seminal “Nevermind” was released in the same week as “Screamadelica”) and this allowed freedom for a band like Primal Scream to create their complex masterpiece unhindered by what was in fashion or which scene was most popular. The ripple effect of its release is still being felt now, as with LCD Soundsytem et al, and the new reissue should ensure that there is another generation of rule breakers inspired by its brilliance.

Spotify Playlist:

Primal Scream – Screamadelica (20th Anniversary Edition)

February was another month divided in terms of the quality of music releases. I’ll start with the most disappointing releases and build to the best.

First is the self titled début album from Win Win, a trio comprising of XXXchange (Spank Rock), Chris Delvin (of Baltimore DJ duo Devlin and Darko) and visual artist Ghostdad. I’m afraid there’s very little to recommend about this album, outside of its excellent singles ‘RPM’ feat. Lizzi Bougatsos from Gang Gang Dance and ‘Interleave’ featuring Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip and the dreamy yet creepy diversion of ‘Distorted Reality 3’. Everything else is insipid and uninspired house and electro by numbers. A real shame coming from XXXchange, a man whose productions on Spank Rock’s ‘YoYoYoYoYo’ marked him out as someone who could conjure up successful unexpected combinations. On a more positive note I stumbled across the self titled début album by Discodeine at the end of the month and wholeheartedly recommend it anyone looking a new dance music album.

Next up is Beans’ fifth album ‘End It All’ and though there is the odd track , the mournful almost foghorn-like synthetic backing laid over with more rapid fire rhythms of ‘Electric Bitch’, Tobacco delivers his usual analogue buzzsaw synths sound and electro beats on ‘Glass Coffins’ a good match for Beans & the thumping electro beats and grinding synth noises of ‘‘Blue Movie’, that is really great on this album the overall quality is quite low with Beans’ vocals feeling bolted on and often feeling a million miles away from the instrumental, which dominates  instead of complimenting them. I’ve never felt fully convinced of Beans’ ability to perform consistently over a whole album and this is evidence that this time round he can’t but can still produce moments of great chemistry.

A slight improvement again is Asian Dub Foundation’s ‘The History of Now’. This is an album pulling in two directions. On the one hand the band seems to be consolidating its established sound but other tracks promise or display alternatives to or twists on their formula. This could frustrate both newcomers and some long-term fans (I found it a bit frustrating).It is a formula the band have pursued, honed and adapted over the years and it may be starting to wear thin. The last time the band tried to step away from the formula wholesale they produced their only bad album the over-produced and lifeless ‘TANK’. Though ‘The History of Now’ doesn’t stoop to that low, it gets close on ‘Where’s All the Money Gone?’ and ‘This Land is Not For Sale’, it isn’t the band’s finest hour either. A good ADF album, but nothing to match ‘Rafi’s Revenge’, ‘Community Music’ or the underrated ‘Enemy of the Enemy’.

Now to move on the albums that did shine last month. First up: Mogwai’s ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’. This a great mixed bag from Mogwai (a band that has been criticised in the past for producing overly samey music across an album) featuring both the familiar epic post-rock tracks that made them an internationally known force and new directions for the band including using a vocoder and development of Neu! and New Order style rhythms and grooves on ‘Mexican Grand Prix’ and ‘George Square Thatcher Death Party’. I’ve read a lot of negative things about the use of the vocoder and more vocal tracks on this album and can’t say I agree with these opinions. The vocoder is employed subtly and sparingly and Stuart Braithwaite’s vocals have always been a good addition to Mogwai’s music and suit the song he sings on here. Overall I think this is Mogwai’s best album since ‘Happy Music for Happy People’ (2003) and comes highly recommended.

Half American half French quartet Paris Suit Yourself produced a stunning début album in ‘My Main Shitstain’. I honestly can’t think of anything to add to last month’s recommendation of this album, you read can that here. Its one of those that you need to buy!!

Finally there was Toro Y Moi’s new album ‘Underneath the Pine’ which from its chiming and droning intro track right through to the last rhythmic charge of ‘Elise’, it does no wrong. A fantastic concoction of ’80s style funk rhythms and grooves matched with emotive soundtrack backing and the glorious rush of good pop music, a leap forward from his impressive début ‘Causers of This’. The best album I’ve heard so far this year.

Spotify Playlist:

February 2011 playlist

Coming up on Sonic Fiction in March:

  • The third and last part of Vier’s Three Decades of Techno.

  • A new quarterly column Skipped, Flipped and Missed which will explore the career of an artist who is either underrated or overrated and the reasons why that is. This month’s discusses electronic music pioneers Cabaret Voltaire.

  • Primal Scream’s – ‘Screamadelica’ is in this month Classics Critiqued.

March Recommendations:

Cornershop – ‘and the Double O Groove of…’ (Ample Play) 14th March

Cornershop return with an album that has been six years in the making and is a collaboration with previously unknown female vocalist Bubbley Kaur and fuses Punjabi folk with lo-fi hip-hop. As well as their usual blend of traditional Indian sounds and Western styles, this album adds a further twist as Punjabi folk is usually written by men about women but these songs are written from the female standpoint.

Primal Scream – ‘Screamadelica: 20th Anniversary Edition’ (Sony) 14th March

Primal Scream re-release their Mercury Prize winning classic album to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The album comes in both Limited Collectors and Deluxe Editions.

Wagon Christ – ‘Toomorrow’ (Ninja Tune) 14th March

Luke Vibert returns to his Wagon Christ moniker for his latest album of ‘stoned exotica, ridiculous vocal samples, toothsome puns, swinging rhythm and the psychedelic groove’. There’s not a dull moment on this 15 track strong album, preview and buy it a week early here.

Dadawah – ‘Peace and Love’ (Dug Out) 21st March

This was reissued last summer but I failed to get around to mentioning this exceptional dub-reggae album. At the time I could only find tracks on Youtube to listen to it may be different for this re-pressing.

John Foxx and The Maths (Metamatic) 21st March

The return of electro legend John Foxx in collaboration with Benge (aka The Maths). I’ll be honest I’ve only heard the lead single ‘Shatterproof’ but it was an incredible impressive showcase for these two master of the analogue synth world.

Micachu & The Shapes with the London Sinfonietta – ‘Chopped & Screwed’ (Rough Trade) 21st March

This album is a recording of a one-off live performance between these two unique artists. Micachu and The Shapes début album ‘Jewellery’ impressed critics back in 2009 and their scrap heap percussion and awkward yet infectious melodies found a perfect home on last year Congotronics compilation. This record could be a very different kettle of fish, recorded live last year with an orchestra most famous for reinterpretations of classic Aphex Twin and Squarepusher tracks.

Wow, 2010 was quite a year for music and Sonic Fiction, personally I think it was a really great year for music of all types and blog managed to grow massively in the second half the year when we doubled our views from the first half of the year. Thanks to anyone who has taken a look, enjoyed and commented on our pieces. I have to say though that in some ways the end of the year was frustrating reading end of year polls and finding tons of reviews of albums I hadn’t listened to in my bookmarks. Still I’ve decided not to stress about as even some of my favourite journalists haven’t found the time to listen to everything.

In 2011 we hope that Sonic Fiction can continue to grow both in terms of quality of writing and views. We aim to continually improve but want to make this a more conscious effort from now on. We’ve launched a Twitter account which will enable us to link readers to articles, albums, playlists etc and provide the real interactivity that we want with Sonic Fiction. I think that when we started the blog, we were just relived that it was (finally) up and running but as time has gone on a set of aims has emerged. We really want to start debates about the points that we are making and we hope that with the help of Twitter and even better writing we can do so. If anyone has any suggestions of further ways we can encourage this please let us know. We also have a new bi-monthly column launching in February (when we’ll be one year old) that will reassess the perceived reputation of artist(s), a period of their career or a genre, we don’t have a title but if anyone has a suggestion just Twitter it or put it in the comments section.

Ok, so looking forward into the New Year here’s list of the various cultural happenings we are looking forward to this year:

Bands/Artists/Releases

There’s a trio of returning post-punk legends (two of them this month) in the shape of Gang of Four’s (first album in almost 16 years) ‘Content’, Wire release new album ‘Red Barked Tree’ and The Pop Group return with a new album later in the year, which will possibly feature The Bug, Keith Levene (ex Clash and Public Ltd guitarist), Micheal Rother (Neu!), Richard H. Kirk (Cabaret Voltaire) and DJ Assault or not.

There’s ‘Violet Cries’ the debut album by spooky, folky goth types Esben and The Witch, a band I saw a lot of potential in last year but failed to mention.

The explosive agit-prop of Asian Dub Foundation is always welcome in my flat and on the evidence of the title track so will new album ‘A History of Now’ out 7th February.

A week later Mogwai’s fearsome noise will pollute speakers the world over with new album ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’.

I always get excited about new PJ Harvey album but haven’t even listened to one since ‘Tales from the City, Tales from the Sea’, so we’ll have to see if ‘Let England Shake’ changes that.

There’s also the much anticipated collaboration/remix album by Gil-Scott Heron ‘We’re New Here’, though the description I read on FACT doesn’t fill me with confidence.

The Knife have hinted via their newsletter of new material emerging sometime in 2011 and in other Scandinavian news, Bjork has said that new music will be “ready in a few months”.

Finally Primal Scream celebrate the 20th anniversary of ‘Screamdelica’ with a tour and impressive looking 6 disc box set on March 7th. There will also be smaller edition more info as I get it.

New band tips

  • OoOOo – self titled debut E.P. was one of the top releases of 2010, next release much anticipated.

  • Balam Acab – debut E.P. ‘See Birds’ was one of the top releases of 2010, to be issued on CD in February.

  • Factory Floor – this industrial dance outfit’s early singles impressed, an album is being recorded.

  • Dels – Big Dada’s new hip-hop hope delivers debut album produced by Joe Goddard (Hot Chip) early in 2011.

  • Laurel Halo – made waves all over the internet last year and seems to have the talent to back up the hype!!

  • Yanqui – I was very impressed by this post-rock bands self titled debut E.P. and think there’s real potential for development into something bigger and better.

  • The Samps – another impressive self titled debut E.P. from these sample lovin’ duo, kind of like a sampled based Chin Chin cheesy yet irresistible.

  • Games – this Oneohtrix Point Never side project launched with their debut release ‘We Can Play’ on the super hip Hippos In Tanks late last year and it was packed with great tunes that promises their debut album might just be as good as Oneohtrix’s own material.

  • Blondes – synth based Brooklyn duo who after the success of their ‘Touched’ E.P. should release a debut full length that takes their ‘bedroom space disco’ sound even further out.

  • Win Win – a three way collaborative project comprising XXXchange (Spank Rock), Chris Delvin (of Baltimore DJ duo Delvin and Darko) and visual artist Ghostdad. Their self titled album is out on Vice on 15th February and features Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Naeem (Spank Rock) and Lizzie Bougatsos (Gang Gang Dance).

  • Floating Points Ensemble – the side project of producer Floating Points have already received critical acclaim for their spat of electronic jazz infected 2010 releases, a debut album on Ninja Tune awaits in 2011.

  • Holy Other – The haunting track ‘Yr Love’ leads to a potential album this year. The electronic music producer’s blend of gauzy vocals, 808 claps and swampy delays creates a highly emotional feel, which hopefully will materialise as a complete release.

  • White Car – Having released two EP’s last year this exciting industrial dance duo are currently putting the finishing touches to a début album to be released later this year.

  • Suuns (pronounced ‘Soons’) – This band’s début album ‘Zeroes QC’ manages the ineviable task of  combining post-punk and post-rock influences into a cohesive, tuneful and confident and all without sounding like overblown and bloated rock.

  • Breton – This South London have been saddled with the unfortunate description of ‘post-punk dubstep’ but don’t let that put you off. It’s true that they combine influences from those genres but a quick visit to their MySpace will show that they transcend these distinct sounds to make their unique style. With only one 12″ the potential is definitely there and only time will tell if it can blossom further.

Albums we hope finally see the light of day in 2011

Missy Elliott’s long anticipated ‘The Block Party’, the second Madvillain album, the new Mouse on Mars album; a new album by audio-visual dons Coldcut is due and The Avalanches much, much, much anticipated follow to ‘Since I Left You’, yes I believe this is coming soon.

Spotify playlist:

Preview of 2011

Recommendations

Wire – ‘Red Barked Tree’ (Pink Flag) 10th January

Wire return with their 12th album (and first without guitarist Bruce Gilbert), the bands own description makes it sound like business as usual but this no bad thing!!

Deerhoof – ‘Deerhoof vs Evil’ (Polyvinyl) 25th January

American indie-rockers return with their 11th album, following on from their great contribution to Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers: Alternative Takes on Congotronics’ late last year. You can hear tracks from the album via Soundcloud now and in each week leading up to release.

Gang of Four – ‘Content’ (Groneland) 25th January

Post-punk legends return with their first new album since reforming in 2004. Heavily published by the bands fund raising efforts which included giving away vials of blood to fans with the album. Should be interesting as the two tracks I’ve heard so far have gone from great to so-so.

Talib Kweli – ‘Gutter Rainbows’ (Talibra) 25th January

Talib’s first independent release after the fall out from ‘Eardrum’ lead to leaving Warner Bros. early signs are good and come in the form of the Ski Beatz produced ‘Cold Rain’. You can hear the track and read more details here.

Esben and the Witch – ‘Violet Cries’ (Beggars Banquet) 31st January

Quietly gathering support from The Quietus to the Guardian through last year and expected to produce one of the debuts of the year. Will their folky gothic pop live up to the hype?

I hope to have some more music, plus television and film recommendations next month.

Coming up in January we have a piece on slow music (more interesting than that sounds), the return of Music Is Improper with the second part of its history of techno and ‘Doolittle’ by the Pixies is this month Classic’s Critiqued.

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