About Martin

I'm a graphic designer and music blogger, working in Hampshire in the UK.

Darkstar – Timeaway [Listen]

Darkstar the northern english electronic music trio return with their new track Timeaway from the forthcoming album News From Nowhere. The group rose to prominence with the 2009 track Aidy’s Girl Is a Computer which was featured on the influential Hyperdub Records compilation 5: Five Years of Hyperdub. The group’s unique sound blended the style of the emerging dubstep movement with an uplifting melodic synth pop edge. Continue reading

Chris Helme – The Rookery [Review]

Chris Helme returns with The Rookery, the follow up to the 2008 excellent long player Ashes. Helme is most famous for being the frontman in the post Stone Roses band The Seahorses created by John Squire. Squire had found Helme when one of his longtime guitar technicians discovered him busking outside a shop in York city center. The Seahorses released their album Do It Yourself in 1997 and instantly shot to fame on the back of the then flourishing britpop scene and the prominence granted by John Squire being in the band. After three hit singles and two years of successful touring the band fragmented whilst writing their second album, mainly due to clashes between Helme and Squire over the new material.

Now with the legacy of The Seahorses fading, especially with the reformation of the Stone Roses getting so much attention, it is great to see Helme forging ahead with his solo career.

Returning with a beautiful and more mature tone, the new album follows on from Ashes with a dreamy indie-folk sound, slightly reminiscent of The Coral and early Gomez. The opening track is the instrumental Pickled Ginger, an almost perfect piece of english folk leaving the britpop days of The Seahorses as a distant memory. As the album grows, simple arrangements are bolstered with the gentle use of a string quartet and confident songwriting.

The track Plane demonstrates this beautifully and is a highlight of the first part of the album, showcasing Helme’s soulful vocal talent.

Listen to a clip of Plane below:

This is then followed by the excellent The Spindle And The Cauldron which adds a hint of early Led Zeppelin to the mix, with suitable melancholic vocals about an ethereal mysterious girl at his window.

Listen to a clip of The Spindle And The Cauldron below:

The track Pleased steers the sound in a further bluesy direction with Daddies Farm adding a upbeat edge to proceedings and Set In Stone bringing back the subtle orchestration. The rich layered production of the whole album really compliments Helme’s vocals and it’s amazing to believe that the whole record was produced in just nine days in the Yorkshire dales.

This is a great album, a gentle, laid back journey, expertly crafted with a good mix of soulful ballads and melodic acoustic rock – all held together with some thoughtful lyrics and excellent vocal talent.

The Rookery is out now and is availble to buy direct from Greedbag and iTunes

Helme has also announced a series of gigs around the country and is well worth seeing live. More information at chrishelme.co.uk

Sep 2nd – Alt.Fest, Fulford Arms, York
Sep 6th – Fulford Arms, York (with Mark Morriss of the Bluetones)
Sep 7th – Ku Bar, Stockton (with Mark Morriss of the Bluetones)
Sep 8th – The Acoustic Gathering, Scarborough
Sep 21st – Burns, Irvine
Oct 2nd – Surya, Kingscross, London
Oct 7th – Rock Your Mind Festival, Middlesbrough
Oct 12th – Kings Hall, Herne Bay (with Simon & Oscar of Ocean Colourscene)
Nov 3rd – Venue Cymru, Cardiff
Nov 4th – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
Nov 9th – Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
Nov 10th – Tollbooth, Stirling
Nov 23rd – The Square, Harlow (with Mark Morriss of the Bluetones)
Dec 22nd – Cumbernauld Town Hall, Cumbernauld, Scotland (with Mark Morriss of the Bluetones)

Ride – Going Blank Again (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) [Reissue]

Of all the bands that came out of the Thames Valley shoegaze scene in the early 90s, I hold Ride the dearest. As well as owning the gargantuan amount of effects pedals and an intimate knowledge of My Bloody Valentine records that the scene required; they could also write tunes with memorable sonic hooks. Continue reading

Blanck Mass – White Math [Listen]

Blanck Mass, the electronic solo project of  Benjamin John Power, one half of the excellent noise duo Fuck buttons has a new 12” White Math / Polymorph out 21 August 2012.

The 12” released via Oneohtrix Point Never’s Software Recording Company follows last year’s stunning self titled debut LP. The album was an ambient noise masterpiece that evoked otherworldly sounds in its waves and washes of noise.

The new track White Math pushes the sound in a different direction; evoking the sound of 90s analog techno, it tips its hat more to the sound of Orbital rather than the pulsating drone of Fuck Buttons.

Listen to White Math here:

The 12” will be available from the Blanck Mass bandcamp page.


Sounds of the Summer Olympics [Listen & Watch]

While here in Britain we cannot guarantee the summer weather, we can count on some high calibre musical acts to craft the sound of the London games.

First up we have the official song of the games courtesy of Muse. Survival channels all the pomp and ceremony of Muse at their most Queen-like into five minutes of all the over-the-top rock anthem you could wish for. It’s oh so slightly overblown, but so are the games themselves. The track builds and soars in all the appropriate places, to quote Matt Bellamy “it expresses a sense of conviction and determination to win.”

It will be broadcast when the athletes enter the stadium and in the period before medal ceremonies. The track is also set to appear on the group’s next album The 2nd Law, which will be released in September.

A nice promo with archive footage from previous games has been released, can viewed below:

Next we have The Chemical Brothers, I’ve always associated the duo with tearing around tracks at high speed – ever since repeatedly listening to the track Loops of Fury whilst playing Wipeout 2097 on my Playstation in the 90s. So, it seems apt that they’ve been tasked with creating the official Theme For Velodrome. The track takes its cue from Tour de France by Kraftwerk, but builds upon the sound with some heavier beats and some robotic voices. As with the Kraftwerk track the repetitive nature of the songs electronica fits nicely with the pace and movement of the sport. I can already see it sitting well on round-up highlight clips of the cycling.

Unfortunately, it would seem even penning an official tune for the games won’t get you any tickets for the event – “We did ask but no one’s come through yet. At the moment neither of us has any …” revealed Ed Simmons.

Listen to a radio rip from  Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show here:

Other official Olympics songs include: Good Morning to the Night by Elton John vs Pnau, and Good Life by Delphic.

As for the television coverage, the BBC are running their own idents for the broadcasting of the games and have approached the band Elbow to write the theme. This makes perfect sense as their track One Day Like This has pretty much been featured on every sporting broadcast by every broadcaster since its release in 2008. Elbow have composed a six-minute track called First Steps, with a choir taking on the vocals.

The track is suitably epic and has a main melodic theme that can be pumped up for the victorious moments and toned down for the quieter more contemplative losing reactions.

A rather nice ident has been created by RKCR/Y&R and it can be seen below, along with a clip of the Elbow track:

Muse band website

The Chemical Brothers website

Elbow band website

BBC 2012 website

Free 78 minute UNKLE Sounds set from James Lavelle [Listen & Download]

James Lavelle, DJ, electronic recording artist and founding member of UNKLE has released the latest UNKLE Sounds mix on soundcloud.

The mix, entitled The End Pt. 1 includes many UNKLE tracks from their last few studio releases, remixed by the likes of Trentemøller, King Unique and 16 Bit Lolitas.

Originally categorised as a trip-hop project in the mid 90s, UNKLE have evolved over the years into a full band, employing a variety of guest artists and producers. They regularly remix tracks as UNKLE and perform DJ sets as UNKLE Sounds.

Listen and download the mix below:

The tracklist of the mix:

1. Intro
2. Trouble In Paradise – UNKLE
3. Let The Lord Shine A Light On Me (UNKLE Remix) – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
4. F.E.A.R. (UNKLE Remix) – Ian Brown
5. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (A Cappella) – Daft Punk
6. Restless (16 Bit Lolitas Remix) – UNKLE
7. The Runaway (A Cappella) – UNKLE
8. Natural Selection (Future Beat Alliance Remix) – UNKLE
9. The Answer (Trentemøller Remix) – UNKLE
10. Reign (String Reprise) – UNKLE
11. Reign (King Unique Remix) – UNKLE
12. No One Knows (A Cappella) – Queens Of The Stone Age
13. Money And Run (16 Bit Lolitas Remix) – UNKLE
14. Heavy Drug (Album Version) – UNKLE
15. Heavy Drug (King Unique Remix) – UNKLE
16. Heavy Drug (Future Beat Alliance Remix) – UNKLE
17. Heavy Drug (Fergie Remix) – UNKLE
18. Follow Me Down – UNKLE
19. 24 Frames (Redux) – UNKLE
20. Tomorrow Never Knows (A Cappella) – The Beatles
21. The Dog Is Black (Barry Jamieson Remix) – UNKLE
22. Heaven (Charlie May Remix) – UNKLE
23. Sayonara – UNKLE
24. Burn My Shadow (A Cappella) – UNKLE
25. In A State/God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters – UNKLE/Moby

UNKLE Website

Brian Jonestown Massacre – I Wanna To Hold Your Other Hand [Listen]

Brian Jonestown Massacre, the band made infamous by their various ups, and mainly downs, in the documentary Dig! are back with a new album Aufheben.

The band have had a few line-ups over the years and unfortunately the music is often overlooked by many in favour of the on screen antics, that have been mostly sensationalised in the media. This is such a shame as their music is superb; Anton Newcombe, the constant in the psychedelic collective has consistently put out a great library of music over the last 20 years.

The new LP is due out on May 1st and after the electronica tinged sound of the last release Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?, Aufheben brings the traditional Brian Jonestown Massacre sound back, mixed with eastern influences.

The track I Wanna To Hold Your Other Hand has been made available for streaming and has a delightfully laid back, and heavily sedated Beatlesque sound that even makes a nod to the fab four in the title.

Listen below.


The track listing for Aufheben:

1 – Panic in Babylon
2 – Viholliseni Maalla
3 – Gaz Hilarant
4 – Illuminomi
5 – I Wanna To Hold Your Other Hand
6 – Face Down On The Moon
7 – Clouds Are Lies
8 – Stairway To The Best Party
9 – Seven Kinds Of Wonderful
10 – Waking Up To Hand Grenades
11 – Blue Order New Monday

Brian Jonestown Massacre play London this July – on sale now

New Black Moth Super Rainbow track and album to follow [Listen]

After a two year break – Black Moth Super Rainbow, the experimental electro-psych pop group from Pittsburgh are back with a new track Spraypaint and the announcement of a new album.

The sound on the track has the familiar serene and warm soft fuzzy acid sound of previous releases, along with heavily Vocoder drenched vocals.

Although there is no definite release date for the upcoming and as of yet untitled album, frontman Tobacco has hinted at the record dropping in the summer.

Listen to Spraypaint here:


A clip from Like A Sundae

Band website

Quakers – Fitta Happier [Listen]

Geoff Barrow of Portishead fame; under the moniker of Fuzzface, has a new hip-hop project called Quakers.

Barrow, producing the project along with Portishead engineer 7-Stu-7 and Australia’s DJ Katalyst, worked with over 35 artists to create a 41 track album.

The album started when the producers uploaded a series of beats to their Myspace page for anyone to download. People were then encouraged to rap over the samples and return them to the group. Entries that the group liked were then included on the album. Artists that contributed include Dead Prez, Prince Po, Aloe Blacc, Guilty Simpson, and M.E.D.

The reasoning behind the project is that the three like-minded producers, disillusioned with the current hip-hop landscape, wanted to create a record that they would like to listen to themselves. The method they used, meant that a wide range of genuine talent could be be showcased on the project, not just the current hottest names. Hence the name Quakers; it comes from ‘earthquake’ – they’re here to shake the foundations.

The various vocal talent is held together with a heavy, lo-fi and gritty production style, that can be heard to great effect on the first track released – Fitta Happier. The track features Guilty Simpson and M.E.D rapping over what seems to be a marching band covering Radiohead’sNational Anthem’.

Listen to Fitta Happier (ft. Guilty Simpson and M.E.D.) below

I really like the sound of this track and I’m looking forward to the album that comes out on 27th March.

The album will be available on Stones Throw Records as 2/LP, Digital, and 2/CD (vocal disc & instrumental disc).