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.



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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Screw no. 421 ~ 20 Years of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

It is hard to believe that two whole decades have passed since the Smashing Pumpkins released this double album – this sprawling, epic masterpiece that defied critics and surprised many by redefining the double album and concept rock album as things that can indeed simply be longer records of extremely high quality throughout.

Smashing Pumpkins were always a strange band. Outsiders from Chicago, they were never part of the holy trinity of grunge, made up of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. They released ‘Gish’ in 1991, a superb album, but one that was completely blown out of the water by “Nevermind” and the Seattle explosion. Billy Corgan and co. returned in 1993 with ‘Siamese Dream’, with singles “Disarm” and “Today” becoming genuine rock anthems of the highest calibre. The Pumpkins had arrived; they had delivered their seminal piece. So where to next?

I was 17 in October 1995. I had just started college a fortnight before “Mellon Collie…” emerged. As such, it will forever evoke memories of the freedom, excitement and trepidation of those first steps into post-school life. Everyone was in and out of a poxy relationship that they would never get over; everyone was happy and disaffected in equal measure; everyone was in a band, and they all drank in Fibbers every Saturday. Or so it seemed. And it was in this Parnell Street institution where we first threw ourselves around the dancefloor to lead single “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”, one of the angstiest songs of that angst-ridden era in alternative music and a perfect application of the soft-loud dynamic which also defined that time.

But to focus on the individual singles or standout tracks would be wrong. Because, unlike almost any other double album, such as the “White Album” or “Use Your Illusion I and II”, each individual ‘part’ of “Mellon Collie…” does contribute and sum up to the ‘whole’ of the album. I might as well get this out of the way now – this is a far, far superior album, to the ‘White Album’. There is little, if any, filler. There is no “Wild Honey Pie” or “Ob-la-di”. There are 28 songs. Over 2 hours of music. And all written, recorded and produced just over 2 years after releasing one of the greatest guitar rock albums of all time in “Siamese Dream”.

This clip below is of a live version of “Thru the Eyes of Ruby”, the 7th song on Disc 2. Over 7 minutes of equal parts beauty and rage. An era-defining song of cement-heavy guitars, thundering, absolutely thundering, drums and agonised vocals, building and building and building into several climaxes. It is but one example of the quality of the album tracks on this record.

In terms of the musical make-up of this album, it is all over the place, with the above track being typical of the album as a whole. The first disc opens with a short piano instrumental, the title track, followed by the well worn hit, “Tonight, Tonight”, which is a strained, but beautiful, ballad. And those two adjectives describe so much of this album. The sheer beauty of the pianos, strings, clean and acoustic guitars is always in the same neighbourhood as some degree of pain, with a massive dynamic uplift in mood usually just around the corner. And then there’s the barnstormer all out thrashers, such as “Tales of a Scorched Earth”, “Ode to No One”, and “X.Y.U.”, all of which which marry Jimmy Chamberlain’s explosive drumming with Corgan and James Iha’s layers upon layers of guitar, distorted to an extent that has rarely been heard since. The studio version of “Thru’ the Eyes of Ruby” had 70 guitar tracks. That is quite frankly, ludicrous. But listen to it – it was worth it!

In between these extremes, there are simply phenomenal anthems. “Zero” and “Muzzle” are songs that will never be forgotten by those of us lucky to have been around for their release. The former rocks along at a nice little headbanging pace with that classic riff defined by octaves and natural harmonics. This track also showcases some of Corgan’s most quotable lyrics, before a gloriously messy solo gives way to all hell breaking loose, after which we return to one last hook. Amazingly it’s all over in well under 3 minutes. The latter track I firmly believed was pure poetry 20 years ago. The 37 year old me wants to distance myself from that stupid teenager and scoff at the immaturity of it all (Corgan was 10 years younger than me now when he wrote it as well), but I can’t. It remains a wonderful piece of grunge literature; of its time and timeless. A magnificent, uplifting work.

On the subject of the lyrics generally, while they seem a tad trite and adolescent in places today, I do recall finding the CD not too long ago and seeing the booklet completely dog-eared and in a far from perfect state. Because every day for months, I sat down to listen to this album and had learned the words to almost every song. It was probably the last album I was obsessed with. Because as you exit your teens and enter your 20’s, unashamed rock-star worship progressively leaves your life, but the albums you pored through in immense detail in those years must have had something.

We must also mention second single “1979”. A strange song that just refuses to fit anywhere. A mid-paced gentle rocker; a nostalgic reminiscence defined more by loops and electronic beats than the monstrous electric and soft acoustic guitars elsewhere. A coming of age tale, given life by one of the most memorable music videos of the time. Dancefloors all over the city heaved – in a very lighthearted way – every time this came on.

And while “Mellon Collie…” has gathered dust as a CD for more than 15 of the last 20 years, and now lives in the attic in that format; while it never made it onto my mini-disc player in the late 90’s; and while the ripped Mp3’s barely got a spin through the noughties, it was added to my Spotify account a few short months ago. For one reason and one reason only. Those ballads. Those wonderful, soporific, yet uplifting ballads form part of my baby son Thomas’ ‘going to sleep’ wind-down playlist. I wanted those songs from “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” to be among the first sounds he ever heard in this world. Because this is not an album. It’s a soundtrack. And because 20 years on, it deserves another spin. And another fan.

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Screw No. 419 ~ Sir Spyro, Chino Amobi, Ja Rule.

I reviewed a track by New York based Chino Amobi (previously Diamond Black Hearted Boy) a couple of weeks ago and he bleeped on my radar again last week with a particularly mutated and gloomy take on r’n’b, ‘NEW YORK WILL NOT SAVE YOU’ is mordant and knackered to fuck and the accompanying video maintains this ‘couldnt be arsed anymore’ facade.

Meanwhile Sir Spyro takes it down to gut level, sparse and menacing ‘Tekkerz’ is one for the nightcrawlers – hoods up fella’s.

Finally for the day thats in it here’s a recent classic for the party your about to have.

Sir Spyro ~ Tekkerz [Instrumental]

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