Screw No. 427 ~ My Favourite David Bowie song

Everyone has a favourite David Bowie song. Mine is “Life on Mars”.

The melody is wonderfully dynamic, an almost menacing verse building and building into the soaring and breathless chorus. A cascade of seemingly random images make up the lyrics, ranging from Mickey Mouse to John Lennon, the Norfolk Broads and of course, those famous sailors fighting in the dance hall.

Pure musical craftsmanship. As much opera as rock. And one of the greatest songs ever written.

Today is a very sad day for music. It’s a sad day for those of us who believe music should be populated by genius, madness and debauchery in equal measure. Rock stars. Larger than life demigods strutting their stuff in outrageous fashion on ludicrous stages to an enraptured audience that was more a congregation than a concert crowd. Bowie was one of those people. An inspiration, a rebel, and an innovator. English eccentricity personified. He was art from another planet that the whole world fell in love with. And he will be missed.

Rest in Peace Bowie.

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Screw No. 426 ~ David Bowie: The Making Of Blackstar

David Bowie Blackstar

One Sunday night in the spring of 2014, David Bowie walked into 55 Bar, a 96-year-old jazz joint tucked away on a quiet side street in New York’s West Village. A friend, jazz bandleader Maria Schneider, had suggested he check out the night’s headliner, a quartet led by saxophonist Donny McCaslin. Bowie grabbed a table near the stage and took in a set of exploratory jazz, then left without speaking to the band. “A server was like, ‘Wait, was that David Bowie?'” McCaslin says. “It started dawning on people.”

This was how David Bowie cast the band who were going to play on his final album Blackstar. It is an extract taken from Andy Greene’s Rolling Stone article from November 23, 2015, with contributions from Producer Tony Visconti and saxophonist Donny McCaslin: The Inside Story of David Bowie’s Stunning New Album, ‘Blackstar’

Could anyone else other than David Bowie write his own epitaph in song, make a video of it, and present it to the world just days before his death. Blackstar is a truly remarkable album, and for me his best in decades.

Ashes to ashes
Funk to funky
We’ll miss you Major Tom.

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Screw No. 425 ~ The Dadaist Christmas Day Playlist

Welcome to the Dadaist Christmas Day Playlist, a festive section of 2015 releases accompanied by some choice treats of yesteryear. There’ll be music to cook a bird by. There’ll be beats for your feet, and there’ll be grooves for the soul. What better way to kick start Christmas day, than with the wonderful Lianne La Havas and her inspirational and heartwarming song, “Unstoppable”. How many relatively unknown artists get Prince to play a gig in the living room of their flat (in South London)? And more to the point, how many artists, these days, spend two years writing and crafting their debut album?

To begin the playlist, simply click the small grey play button below

Lianne La Havas ~ Unstoppable

Next up its Astronauts, which is the solo project from Dan Carney, formerly of the critically acclaimed East London alt-folkers Dark Captain. The song “Slow Days”, is accompanied by a decidedly Dadaist visual treat of a decrepit caravan passing through a cycle of blurred images. “Slow Days” is taken from the wonderful album Hollow Ponds, which you could easily get lost in of a quiet hour.

Astronauts ~ slow days

Sun Kil Moon’s “Birds of Films” is a lengthy song, which is worth the investment. With a tale of blue collar toil, artistic struggle and romances not to be; all accompanied by shimmering strings over a steady acoustic rhythm. Sun Kill Moon is Mark Kozelek, formerly of San Francisco band Red House Painters. I wonder, does the Korean lightweight boxer Sung-Kil Moon know he is renowned in Americana circles? Whether he does, or not, they both have a fantastic name.

Sun Kill Moon ~ Birds of Films

Midlake is an American folk rock band from Denton, Texas, who formed in 1999. It wasn’t until they signed to Bella Union Records that they made their real breakthrough. Which surprisingly, was in Europe and led to their growing popularity via the festival circuit. I don’t need to describe “Young Bride” to embellish the song, all you have to do is listen.

Midlake ~ Young Bride

Now for a second track by Astronauts entitled, “In My Direction”. I was only introduced to this artist this week, and he has certainly made an impression on me. Keep an eye out for future releases, as his album Hollow Ponds seems to have gone slightly under the radar.

Astronauts ~ In My Direction

Julia Holter burns like a dazzling light of authenticity in a pop music world of pretense, ego, and braggadocio. Screw Music’s modernist marauder The Breach, brought Holter to our attention in 2013, with her third album Loud City Song, and then again with this year’s critically acclaimed pop breakthrough, Have You in My Wilderness. Here is “Feel You”, the sublime opening track from the album that would melt even the grumpiest of Christmas Grinches!

Julia Holter ~ Feel You

While I wouldn’t consider Holly Herndon Christmas music, there is no way that I can round off the year musically, without including her immense presence in where music is at today. She blends composition, vocals, performance art, and music through technology, in her attempt to make music of the now. In relation to her instrument of choice, the laptop, she says, “A lot of people complain about it being less engaging, less natural, less emotional, but my laptop mediates so much of my life: my Skype, my bank account, my emails, my relationships,” she says. “It’s actually a hyper-emotional instrument; it has more emotional content than a violin could ever dream of.” Here’s “Chorus”, from this year’s album Platform. It is essentially the pretty pop song taken from the discordant swirl of an album that resembles a multitude of browser windows being open at once, with any number of divergent themes juxtaposed as one.

Holly Herndon ~ Chorus

Next up, is a track from Danish producers Kenton Slash Demon, who are signed to Australian indie label Future Classic. I came across the track via the ever enlightening Giles Peterson, on BBC 6 Music. Talkin’ Loud and Acid Jazz label owner, Peterson, is almost unrivaled in his musical knowledge on the wireless/interweb. Especially when it comes to quality music from almost every corner of the globe. He can flip between Korean pop, African traditional music, to cutting edge electronica, and on to whatever you are having yourself. No genre is excluded, and he excels at his forte, which is presenting rare club tracks that have rocked dance floors all the way back to the halcyon club nights in the 1920’s, in musical meccas of the time, such as New York and Berlin. He really has opened my mind to the fact that nightclubs didn’t begin with, first disco, and followed on by electronic music in the 80’s and 90’s, as many kids like myself might have believed. His midweek and Saturday evening shows on BBC Radio 6 are worthwhile no matter what activity you are getting up to.

Kenton Slash Demon – Syko

Now as the evening grows long and you have rested off the gluttonous intake of the delights of the day, the sherries and ales are filtering down to your legs, and yes, yes, it’s that time of the evening. It’s time to get freaky in the kitchen. It’s time for F.U.N.K., funk. Here is a trio of delights from my vault. Funk needs no introduction, nor explanation, it just is.

Hit it Ernie…

Ernie And the Top Notes, Inc. ~ Dap Walk

Hector Village ~ Callers

Isis ~ April Fool

It’s the wee hours, and the joy of Christmas spirit is now at its zenith. Look outside, and if you are lucky to have a clear sky you will see a full moon.

“Tell me the story about how the sun loved the moon so much he died every night to let her breathe” ~ Lokesh Fouzdar

The Marcels ~ Blue Moon

And now for the greatest punk song ever written. Can you imagine what The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” sounded like when first listened to by a 1963, conservative, sugar-coated-candy-pop America? “Surfin’ Bird” was the brainchild of Trashmen drummer Steve Wahrer. The song was a combination of two R&B hits by The Rivingtons, “The Bird’s the Word” and “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow”. It went on to reach no.4 in The Billboard charts, with all the royalties, quite rightly, going to the Rivingtons. But that’s a story for another day.

It is not uncommon at Christmas, to see certain members of the Dadaist family doing a version of ‘the bird’, similar to the one seen at the end of this alternate version of the song, that was aired on U.S. TV in 1963.

Happy Christmas to you all, and enjoy!

The Trashmen ~ Surfin Bird

[Disclaimer: No photoshop was harmed in the making of this image]

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Screw No. 424 ~ Sevdaliza and Swindle

Happened upon dutchwoman Sevdaliza’s ‘That Other Girl’ recently, exoticised and hushed tones give way to a satisfyingly grimey mid section breakdown. Her ‘Sirens of the Caspian’ continues the mystery and intrigue (with a slightly on the nose french speaking intro) before the anticipated yet gratifyingly sensual bass and vocal drop. The video to this one teeters on the line between a slightly po-faced sensualism verging on amusing and serious artistry, tis a bit Twigs lite lets say but ultimately the music carries it off. All in all these are two fine example’s of the play between electronica and r’n’b that seems to be ubiquitous these days.

Swindle’s hyper kinetic form of jazz n’ bass has caught my attention again, ‘Mad Ting’ and ‘London to LA’ ft Ash Riser confirming that at this intersection it seems Swindle has no peers, meanwhile check out one from last year I missed by Silk Rhodes, ‘Pain’ is a retro soul number whereas Submotion Orchestra’s ‘All yours’ resides on the poppier end of the soul spectrum.

SEVDALIZA ~ THAT OTHER GIRL

SEVDALIZA ~ SIRENS OF THE CASPIAN

Swindle ~ Mad Ting (ft Jme)

Swindle ~ London To LA (Ft. Ash Riser)

Silk Rhodes ~ Pains

Submotion Orchestra – All Yours

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Screw No.423 ~ The 10 Rules Of Rock & Roll

Robert Forster’s 2009 book The 10 Rules Of Rock & Roll, is a collection of music reviews from the former Go-Betweens singer songwriter. Forster has been writing reviews for Australian magazine The Monthly since 2005. His reviews are written in essay format, 1,500 words, which are akin to articles in The Atlantic; a standard Forster admits he aspires to emulate. I am not going to delve into any of his essay type articles, we have our own Screw Music collection on this site that should facilitate your every musical need. Here is Forster’s top 10. I think you will find that the list needs no explanation.

1.   Never follow an artist who describes his or her work as ‘dark’.
2.   The second-last song on every album is the weakest.
3.   Great bands tend to look alike.
4.   Being a rock star is a 24-hour-a-day job.
5.   The band with the most tattoos has the worst songs.
6.   No band does anything new on stage after the first 20 minutes.
7.   The guitarist who changes guitars on stage after every third number is showing you           his guitar collection.
8.   Every great artist hides behind their manager.
9.   Great bands don’t have members making solo albums.
10. The three-piece band is the purest form of rock and roll expression.

And just so you are in no doubt as to Forster’s credentials, here is “Love Goes On!”, the addictive opening track from The Go-Betweens final album 16 Lovers Lane. An album I stumbled upon, many years ago, whilst browsing in the much loved record shop that used to be beside the Dart station in Bray, Co. Wicklow. I went home and played the opening track three times before falling utterly in love with The Go-Betweens, arguably Australia’s finest musical export of the 1980’s.

The Go-Betweens ~ Love Goes On! /a>

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Screw No.422 ~ The Monday Mix

Mercury Rev

First up, its iconic art rockers Mercury Rev with “Are You Ready?” Taken from their newly released album The Light in You, their first album since Snowflake Midnight, in 2008. The song opens with a shimmering wall of sound that blends into a wonderfully crafted song. The line, “Hypnotised you make your selections: Psychedelic rock and blue-eyed soul”, could just as easily be a description of this particular blogger’s early musical interests. The album is out now, and Mercury Rev play The Button Factory in Dublin on November 22.

Mercury Rev ~ Are You Ready?


Everyone’s favourite melancholic crooner, John Grant, is back with his third studio album Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. Grant has had a diverse career, working with artists such as The Flaming Lips, Sinead O’Connor, Tracey Thorn, and Elton John; all following the making of two albums with The Czars, released on Bella Union. He even co-wrote Iceland’s entry (his adopted home) for the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. If you want to hear the full range of Grants powerful voice and absorbing songs, check out John Grant and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra: Live in Concert.

John Grant ~ Global Warming

Meg Remy is, U.S. Girls. A name which she coined for an early solo project featuring, by all accounts, harsh and brutal soundscapes played out on a giant reel-to-reel tape machine and effects pedals. You will probably not have heard of U.S. Girls before this year. She has released an album a year for seven years. Perhaps with the admitted reduction of harshness in her music and the addition of a live band, her album Hall Free, and her music is beginning to be heard by a wider audience. Here is the dub heavy “Damn That Valley”, U.S. Girls first release off Hall Free.

U.S. Girls ~ Damn That Valley

Battles are masters at the undeniable art of repetition. Their new album La Di Da Di is
described by their record label Warp as “an organic techno thrum of nearly infinite loops that refuse to remain consistent.” Translation: they use repetitive sounds that blend into each other beautifully. The departure in 2010, of Tyondai Braxton doesn’t seem to have affected the creativity of the trio that remained. Here is “The Yabba”, featuring an Irish gig, of all things. Or is it a reel? The colour green will spite me for not knowing.

Battles ~ The Yabba

And Now for something to lighten the mood. Peter, Paul and Mary were a cornerstone of the American folk revival of the early 1960’s. With a career spanning almost fifty years, they are one of the most durable acts in popular music history. Here is the sublime, “If I Had a Hammer”. A song written by Pete Seeger, who himself acknowledges the Peter, Paul and Mary’s version (the first cover of the song) as the definitive rendition. The song also resulted in the group’s first Grammy Award in 1962, for Best Performance by a Vocal Group and Best Folk Recording.

Peter, Paul and Mary ~ If I Had a Hammer

And finally, because I just couldn’t pick between the two tracks, here is U.S. Girl’s “Navy & Cream”, featuring an almost out of place cock rock guitar in the midst of some atmospheric brilliance.

U.S. Girls ~ Navy & Cream

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