ALBUM REVIEW: Bitori — ‘Legend of Funaná’

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Dating back to the time of Portugal colonialism funaná is the name of the Cape Verdean based music that celebrates that land’s unique music style and culture, while helping to vanquish any dispirited moods. Awarded a special reissue via the Analog Africa label, ‘Legend of Funaná’ was recorded in Amsterdam, and puts these celebrated, joyful tunes together on one recommended disc.

Funaná is noted for its decorated, uplifting folksy strains, and simple-code rootsy rhythms. Accordion and ferrinho are permanent fixtures here; the identifiable music creating items, and near constant foundations around which the rest of the music is built. Listening to the album’s eight cracking, spirited tracks, one longs to hear Victor Tavares (for Bitori is he) and accomplices play this stuff live in some dingy-but-spirited pub.

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Watch the video for New Order’s next single ‘People On The High Line’

People On The High Line is the next single lifted from New Order’s almost a year old, dancefloor quest LP ‘Music Complete’.

The track sounds like it’s 1993 all over again, all house piano and a conveyor belt beat and clap. Featuring La Roux (herself no stranger to okayish, packaged as alternative dance-pop), the track is out October 21.

The video, available to watch below, features a couple breakdancing like it’s 1984. Confused? You will be.

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Weekend Footy: 5 things we didn’t learn

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1 Torino (is there a club anywhere with as beautiful a name?) followed up two consecutive clean sheets with their first home win over Roma for 25 years. Falque scored two against the club who actually own him, to put the Turin club on their way to a relatively comfortable 3-1 win. Anyhooz, a Roma player scored two for Torino to send his actual club on their way to defeat. Roma scored through a Totti pen, well struck as always, sending Hart the wrong way. In fact, the on-form Hart kinda looked like he wasn’t in the mood to attempt to bother saving it. After all, the Roma hero is celebrating his 40th birthday this week, and who’d wanna spoil it for him?

2 At Villa Park Newcastle met Aston Villa for the first time outside the top flight since 1938. Chances were missed by the visitors one after the other before Villa came into it late on, to grab a leveler through Tshibola to cancel Elphick’s OG from the first half. Newcastle are still there or thereabouts, and strongly fancied to win the title as they almost always do in this division. Villa can’t stop drawing, and if they don’t get maneuvering soon they could find themselves with too much to do come the end of the year.

3 While Celtic hammered Killie 6-1– including another brace from the obv. slotting in marvelously, Dembele– to increase their lead at the top in Scotland, Aberdeen sent Rangers into the bottom half thanks to a cracking– and crackingly sounding– free-kick from James Maddison on the stroke of full-time. The visitors might feel hard done by, but at the same time it you’re gonna score a winner at the whistle, what better way to do it. A goal well worth checking out. Aberdeen also move into second, four points behind the Hoops but having played a game more.

4 Perhaps the most eye-catching result in the EPL was Arsenal’s tanking of Chelsea. The Arse looked as lively as Chelsea looked abject. Work to do for Conte on the Chelsea bench, saying after the game that his team are “only good on paper”. But as one journalist pointed out, who told him Chelsea were even good on paper? Once again, Alexis Sanchez was the standout player on the park.

5 Real Madrid struggled to see off Las Palmas, culminating in letting the home side back into the game twice whilst Ronaldo was tactically subbed for the first time in his Real career. He obviously disapproved, and then looked equally annoyed as sheepish from the bench the moment the Canaries scored to level 2-2 with just over five minutes remaining. His team are still top, but now only one point clear of Barca, who thumped Gijon 5-0.

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Beer vs Album: Kentucky Ale takes on Dinosaur Jr.’s ‘Green Mind’

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Marketed as “a marriage of traditional English pale ale and Irish red ale styles”, Kentucky Ale is brewed in Co Meath, and is a sort of peace-offering involving crisp, fine ale. This 5% volumer has a slightly roasted flavour to add to its light, smooth accessibility. I wasn’t sure it was gonna come off, but, interestingly, it most certainly has and more. Lovely.

Like the artwork, 1991’s ‘Green Mind’ by slacker grunge punks Dinosaur Jr. is both a bit cool and a bit wrong at the same time. Hard to believe that during the first part of the same year, post ‘Bleach’/pre ‘Nevermind’ Nirvana were actually the support act to Dinosaur Jr., as J Mascis and his band would tour the record. (Lou Barlow had by now left, while other founding member, Murph, was an at best part-time member for the album’s recording). The record has a few highs, while also– a little too often– fails to spark.

Final Score:

Kentucky Red Ale 3-1 ‘Green Mind’

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ALBUM REVIEW: Warpaint — ‘Heads Up’

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‘Heads Up’ is the third album from Warpaint, and it represents that almost inevitable moment when someone close to the group suggests; “why not try something a bit different for the next album?” Sometimes this is the result of an artist really wanting to challenge both us and them, others the result of running low on ideas and songs. It could well have been the latter here, but this depends on if you thought Warpaint were any good to start with.

The group has near ditched their moody, flossy brand ‘atmospheric indie’, for something a touch more zippy and semi RnB. But, in the end, it’s a mixed bag that only occasionally throws up a tune, and even these no more than mildly enjoyable in a throwaway manner. New Song is as radio-friendly as the band has appeared thus far. It’s almost to Haim levels of neatly done, eighties-tinged accessibility (which isn’t a bad thing), while By Your Side is All Saints if that band had spent the late nineties listening to nothing but the home produced triphop lark of Palmskin Productions and Solex. Elsewhere, So Good forgets all about a chorus, and sounds like some idea lying around from their last album– albeit touched up with a tricky beat, Don’t Wanna is as forgettable as a piece of paper blowing by in the breeze, and Dre is Sade with modern sounds and a mysteries sex appeal. Oooh, matron!

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‘Some Great Reward’ is where Depeche Mode rediscovered their zest, yet always experimenting

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By 1984 the UK pop scene was about to become bigger, more challenging; new production techniques, bar raising producers using expertise to channel these, and risqué lyrics were all the rage. How would those punk fans with synths, Depeche Mode, respond? unsurprisingly with their finest album yet, the sexy, challenging, and new-sound ‘Some Great Reward’.

Forgoing much of the kids-at-christmas industrial playing around that dominated previous year’s intriguing though ‘single-lacking’ ‘Construction Time Again’ (a political commentary of an LP, though, that remains undervalued, especially by the bloke at the NME who, a few years ago, ridiculously ranked it as the group’s least best album; this an album that even today still sounds like nothing else around at the time, and certainly a brave left-hand turn), ‘Some Great Reward’ has plenty in it to revitalize any group from an industrial, if worthy, slumber.

People Are People (if lyrically a bit sixth form) became an immediate, big-hooked hit for the breakdance generation both sides of the atlantic, while Master And Servant has within it even more of-its-time pop sounds and, this time, a new sense of dancefloor friendly industrialism. Songwriter Martin Gore sings for the first time, being all lovelorn and earnest on the record’s slower, surprisingly tender tracks, It Doesent Matter, and Somebody.

But its the non singles that are arguably the more interesting here. The grubby up-to-no-good, career-in-the-way-of-commitment Stories of Old, for example, with its sea -shanty melody, or the technoy If You Want To, it’s unforeseen tempo change a minute in reminding me of the Smiths’ Miserable lie from earlier the same year. There’s also weird-pop carousel sounds on this track, giving it a sort of Punch And Judy feel.

What makes the LP even more worthy is the fact that the band decide to go from this fun, sparkling err mode as the penultimate track, before rounding things off with Blasphemous Rumours; the third single, and deepest, darkest, most lyrically challenging they’d hitherto appeared. An odd choice for a single, too, but then one must credit them for having the balls. Again, this another example where being signed to independent Mute helped. (Seeing as we’re coming up with Smiths track equivalents; I guess you could say this song was their ‘Meat Is Murder’).

‘Some Great Reward’ is where Depeche Mode rediscovered their zest. It was also a record that gave them a new form of artistic worth, and new taste for the live circuit. All the while the album keeps things always moving, looking for new sounds, ideas and means and ways to challenge the listener.

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Beatles — ‘Live At The Hollywood Bowl’

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To coincide with the release of the film Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years this is a live album that captures what it was like to be at a Beatles live show in the U.S. in 1964. The constant screaming from the teenage audience here prompts two opposite reactions from the listener; the first is that it’s obviously forced, and ridiculously silly, the second that it is actually part of the show, the overall sound, and the album wouldn’t be the same if it was in some way left out. ‘Live At the Hollywood Bowl’ is a complete recording, 20 songs of good-time rock ‘n’ roll, played supremely tight and wondefully fluid, and delivered in these Scouser’s unique style, their personality stamped all over it.

Despite the obvious timepiece, the music yet comes over forever fresh and easily appealing. After all, perfect pop never really belongs to a specific period, instead almost always accessible and loved no matter the generation. Listening to the album, it’s still hard to foresee the experimental, psychedelic and eccentric individualism that the group were only a few short years from. That is, once they finally decided that they couldn’t handle the screaming any more. We all benefited from this decision.

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