Deafheaven / Youth Code live at Gorilla Manchester 24/04/17 review.

First gig review!

I’d been looking forward to this show for quite some time now, I’ve been listening to Deafheaven since around the time Sunbather was released and never managed to catch them live. I’d heard amazing things about them so was excited to hear that they were coming back to play Manchester. This was also my friends first heavy show before which was also great!

We arrived to a modestly busy Gorilla, doors had been open about half an hour and you could tell it was filling up nicely, we found a nice little spot at the front to watch the LA hardcore industrial two piece, Youth Code.

YOUTH CODE

Youth Code wasted absolutely no time getting into their set, as soon as opening track ‘To Burn Your World’ kicked in, the duo were already in a frenzy. The liveliness was definitely contagious and you could see people digging the driving, bass heavy industrial beats. Sara Taylor’s grinding vocals worked extremely well alongside the aggression of the instrumentation. Most notably impressive from Youth Code was definitely their stage presence. I always sympathise a little bit with support acts, it can’t be easy playing to a room of people that aren’t there for you, but they just took it in their stride. Both stomping and throwing themselves around the stage and it would’ve been the same if there were 10 or 100 people in the room. I hadn’t had much exposure to Youth Code prior to this show but they’re definitely a band I will be listening back on.

Setlist:

To Burn Your World                                                                                                                             Shift Of Dismay                                                                                                                                     Commitment To Complications                                                                                                           Transitions                                                                                                                                               Anagnorisis                                                                                                                                             For I Am Cursed                                                                                                                                     Carried Mask                                                                                                                                           Consuming Guilt                                                                                                                                     Avengement

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Deafheaven followed shortly after and you could really see the shift in the crowd. People started piling forward trying to get as close to the front as they could. When vocalist George Clarke arrived on stage, he encouraged by beckoning the audience and rewarded with grabbing peoples hands and thanking them for coming. Deafheaven slammed into their set with the New Bermuda album opener, Brought To The Water. The breaks between tracks were short and sweet, just introducing the following tracks. The crowd was relatively tame until the sixth (of eight) track, Dream House. When the opening guitars set off, so did the crowd. It was like a completely different set of people. Stage dives, crowd surfers and a mosh pit erupted, all encouraged by the band and enjoyed by the fans. George Clarke conducted the band and audience through almost interpretive dancing throughout the set, twisting and turning his body through some of the lengthier instrumental sections. The pace was kept up throughout the rest of the set, with vocalist also joining in with the crowd surfing, to the delight of the audience.

Deafheaven played 8 songs, but if you’re a fan of the band it won’t come as a surprise that the set clocked well over an hour. They said this was the best show they’ve played in the city and thanked everyone for coming out. Overall a very sweaty, intense but enjoyable night at Manchester’s Gorilla.

Deafheaven Setlist:

Brought To The Water                                                                                                                           Baby Blue                                                                                                                                                 Come Back                                                                                                                                               Language Games                                                                                                                                     Cody (Mogwai Cover)                                                                                                                             Dream House                                                                                                                                           Sunbather                                                                                                                                               The Pecan Tree

Massive thanks to Dan Dares Photography for the Youth Code snap, check out his Facebook page for more of his work! Deafheaven photo from Gorilla website.

First Hurdle Music.

 

 

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Kendrick Lamar Releases ‘DAMN’ But Will We Get Another Album This Weekend?

DAAMN

Kendrick Lamar, Cornrow Kenny, Kung Fu Kenny, King Kenny, whatever you want to know him it’s impossible to avoid him at the minute. After teasing his fourth LP with the promo track ‘The Heart Part 4’ his name has been plastered all over social media and music forums worldwide. Closing the track with ‘Y’all got ’til April the 7th to get y’all shit together’ announcing  the release date of the still untitled album.

‘DAMN’ got pushed back a week, something that is pretty common and not usually anything suspicious but every Kendrick fan knows of his attention to small details that makes him as impressive as he is. By pushing back the record a week, it would mean that it would drop on Good Friday, and this is where the conspiracies begin. I didn’t really think all that much into it until the album actually dropped and I heard the first track ‘BLOOD’. The track sees Kendrick approaching a blind woman to help her find something she’d lost, leading in a (spoiler alert) gunshot being fired and Kendrick seemingly dying. If you’ve still not made the connection, Kendrick wasn’t the only one to die on Good Friday, and fans are hoping that Jesus isn’t going to be the only one to come back on Easter Sunday.

The record is drenched in religious connotations and imagery, fueling the fire of the double album conspiracy. The flame got turned into a full blown conflagration following these tweets from one of the Top Dawg Entertainment producers who worked with Kendrick on ‘DAMN’ :

KENNY

The photo shows Morpheus from the Matrix with the reflection of a blue pill and a red pill in his hands. Kendrick changed his picture on Spotify to a picture of him standing in front a BLUE wall, opposed to the red wall shown on the artwork for DAMN. The opening track again, BLOOD, is an infamous Californian gang, identified by their red gang colours. The theory is there’s a matching ‘CRIP’ track on the opposing album, the rival gang of the bloods, identified with the BLUE gang colours.

I suppose only time will tell as to whether we will get another Kendrick album this weekend, but at least it’s not too long to wait. If we do it will be insane, but if not ‘DAMN’ is a solid listen and I’ve loved every single listen so far.

Do you believe the conspiracy theories? Let Me Know!

First Hurdle Music.

March Album Of The Month

A CROW LOOKED AT ME

My March album of the month comes from Phil Elverum’s solo project, Mount Eerie.

“A Crow Looked At Me” is the eighth studio album under this alias and is one of the most harrowing albums I have ever heard. Released less than a year after the death of his wife, Genevieve Castree, Phil describes his life raising their infant daughter since his wife’s passing.

At the core this would fall under the indie folk / singer songwriter genre, but when you hear it, any pleasant image of the ‘folky’ expectations are quickly extinguished. There has been a lot of comparisons with one his earlier albums ‘Dawn’ (my favourite Mount Eerie release) regarding the very stripped back and primarily acoustic instrumentation.

The lyrical content really is the focus point of this record, and if this is your first exposure to Mount Eerie then it might not be the easiest listen down to Phil’s quite droning voice. The imagery created through Phil’s lyrics really do paint a picture and I challenge anyone to not feel emotional if they sit down properly with this album. I don’t even have a wife or child but it’s just so powerful it’s overwhelming.

I don’t have any qualms about branding this as the best thing that has been released this year so far, and after such a strong start that’s a pretty big claim.

First Hurdle Music.

Record Collection Update

Earlier in the month was my birthday. So naturally my record collection has benefited. Here’s a few things I’ve either generously been bought as presents, or have picked up with money I’ve got for my birthday.



Leading with one of my favourite metal/hardcore releases from last year, Code Orange’s ‘Forever’. This was kindly bought for me from one of my best friends and it’s great. It’s on black vinyl in a gatefold sleeve and on the gatefold it’s matte black with gloss back text and the Code Orange panther logo in the middle. This is a fantastic pressing the actual vinyl feels really heavy and sturdy and it’s sounds amazing.

Secondly, something I just picked up with some birthday money, FKA Twigs’ 4 track ‘EP 1’. Released with no artwork, but with a music video to accompany each of the tracks. This was my first exposure to FKA Twigs and I think, although these tracks are great, she has definitely improved massively since this EP dropped. Regardless, this was a must have for my collection.

Thirdly, and probably the most impressively, I got the deluxe edition of Radiohead’s 2016 record, ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’. This double LP comes in a 32 PAGE BOOK! With loads of additional artwork and lyrics, it’s gorgeous. Interestingly, it comes with a wrap of recording tape used from actual album sessions dating back as far as Kid A. They said instead of throwing them away they’d put them with the special edition, which is a lovely touch. I’m so glad I FINALLY own a physical copy of what was one of my favourite albums of last year.

Next, an absolute classic. Daft Punk’s groundbreaking 2001 LP ‘Discovery’. It’s almost criminal that I haven’t picked this up sooner. Everybody knows at least a handful of tracks off this record and to hear them all as they’re supposed to be heard in the full album form is fantastic. Released in a glossy gatefold package, if you’ve somehow been living in a cave for the past 20 years and managed to completely avoid Daft Punk, do yourself a favour and listen to this album.

ANOTHER CLASSIC! Weezer’s Self Titled / Blue Album is another absolute essential in my collection and one of my best friends picked this up for me. This album has gained platinum certification and it’s not hard to see why. Massive Beach Boys influence and for a debut album the band just found their sound immediately. I first got into this album when I was pretty young, around 9/10 and I feel like it’s grown with me. Truly an album that’s stood the test of time and i’m still finding bits to love now. Pretty minimal artwork but the music can stand on it’s own very very comfortably.

Finally, James Blake’s ‘Overgrown’ LP. Not my favourite James Blake release, in fact it’s probably my least favourite full length from him but still such a solid release. Gorgeous gatefold album again with a slick picture of Blake homed in the middle. This is a great pressing, i’m pretty sure it’s 180 gram so nice and heavy and it sounds amazing. It’s like James Blake just makes music to be heard of vinyl, and he does it so well.

Let me know anything you’ve picked up lately or anything I should check out!

First Hurdle Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Great Albums From March So Far

March has been the slowest month of the year for fresh music so far. I’m not disappointed to be honest as this year is already providing some really fantastic albums very early on in 2017. That doesn’t mean it’s not delivered anything, and here’s two albums that I think are worth your time that have been released in March so far.

BLANK MASS

BLANCK MASS – WORLD EATER

No it’s not a typo, they’re called Blanck Mass and this record is unbelievable. The third, and best, LP from British electronic artist Benjamin John Power. This is one of the best experimental electronic albums I’ve heard not only this year, but for quite some time. It’s a real smash of genres and probably not the easiest on the unprepared ear, but this is such an exhilarating listen, I was so hyped up after hearing this it took me by surprise. The creativity really shines through with the array of vocal samples used and incorporated across some occasionally really dark and harsh rhythms. Even the artwork is engaging and a pretty accurate image of how I looked when the album finished. If you fancy a challenging but rewarding listen, I’d definitely have a sit down with this record.

LAURA MARLING

LAURA MARLING – SEMPER FEMINA 

From one extreme to pretty close to the other, the sixth full length from British singer-songwriter, Laura Marling. I’ll start by saying that this is not my favourite Laura Marling release but it’s a really solid release. The album title, used from a Roman poet, means ‘woman is a fickle and ever-changing thing’ and the album is a beautiful, feminist creation. At the core of this album is Laura’s staple folk sound and it’s apparent in the instrumentation. Lyrically, this is a very personal journey for Marling and her dreamy voice just carries you along the tracks. Don’t Pass Me By is a particular highlight, give this track a whirl first and if you enjoy it, sink your teeth in to the full thing.

First Hurdle Music.

 

 

Ed Sheeran ‘Divide’ Track By Track Review

DIVIDE.jpg

Divide is the third studio album from English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. I thought I’d try a different format of review and break the album down track by track. I’ve been a fan of Sheeran’s previous material, his first album in particular, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Divide has to offer.

1. Eraser

The album opens on a fairly disappointing note for me. Ed Sheeran has a tendency to throw in random tracks where he raps and I just don’t think it works. Regardless, he takes us through the story of his (impressive) rise to success over his famed guitar loops and a booming beat to justify his rapping. Not the strongest start but the lyrics ‘Welcome to the new show, I guess you know I’ve been away’ are fitting to open the record. 6/10.

2. Castle On The Hill

Undoubtedly the better of the two singles released in promotion of this project, Castle On The Hill takes us back to Ed’s youth. It’s a really fun song and very relatable: ‘Had my first kiss on Friday night, I don’t reckon I did it right’. He talks on buying cheap spirits and getting drunk in the park, a common pass time activity for teenagers, you feel like you could be mates with Ed upon hearing this track. Very easy listening and a massive chorus for the live shows. 8/10.

3. Dive

The first few seconds of this track are just what I expect from Sheeran and after the loud and fun previous track, a change of pace is lovely on the ears. This is a gorgeous soul / blues inspired track where Ed looks back on a lost relationship and wonders where he went wrong. It’s stripped back with just a nice beat ticking the song along. This is undoubtedly the strongest vocal performance so far on the record, and the almost gospel like backing vocals complement his first perfectly. Like him or not you can’t deny he has a great voice and this track is a great example of that. The guitar solo was a lovely addition to the track. 9/10

4. Shape Of You

Released alongside Castle On The Hill, Shape Of You is quite a strange track. With a club type beat that sounds like it’s been plucked from Palmistry’s ‘PAGAN’ record (check it out). I think that he’s trying to appeal to such a mass audience with this track that instead of making one type of music well, he’s trying to have something for everyone and this track has suffered because of it. A glamourised story of meeting a girl in a club and taking her home for sex, just plenty of ooh’s and ahh’s to pad it out. 6/10.

5. Perfect

Another gentle track that starts out lovely. Just Ed and his guitar which sounds gorgeous. In this track he serenades the special person in his life for the world to hear, lovely. Up until about the first chorus I found this bearable. I think it just gets very cheesy and a little bit sickly (I’ve got a girlfriend I’m not just being salty). When the strings come in I’ve had more than I can take, but I stick it out. When the lyric ‘I have met an angel in person, and she looks perfect’ hit the urge to change track was the strongest it’s been. I was glad to see the back of this song. 5/10.

6. Galway Girl

The story behind this track is that Ed fought to get this track on the album because his team didn’t think it was fit for the cut. To be honest they should’ve fought a lot harder. Another tale of meeting a girl and getting to know each other through an evening together. The stereotypical Irish instruments and melody over the chorus are just painful, undoubtedly the worst track on the album this far. 3/10.

7. Happier

Back to the comfort of his acoustic guitar after putting his Guinness down, Sheeran takes us on a trip into our feelings. The track sees Ed witnessing an ex moving on and he’s just stuck where he is. It’s a bittersweet song in the sense of he wants to be with her, but he’s happy that she’s happier now, even if it is without him. Another song topic people may find relatable and executed well. 7/10.

8. New Man

Quite interesting following a selfless track respecting his ex’s relationship with a track just slagging off an ex’s partner, but hey. Moving past the hypocrisy, this one is obviously targeted at people fresh out of relationships who are feeling pretty bitter about things. Ed just lists off typical annoyances you might find with your old girls new man. Nothing really appealing in this track unless you’re sour about a lost love. 5/10.

9. Hearts Don’t Break Around Here

This marks the first track on the second half of the record. And honestly, I think it could’ve opened the first half. This is a lovely track without the sop of ‘Perfect’. Sheeran writes these songs so well and his voice works insanely well with his acoustic guitar. If someone doesn’t spring to mind when you listen to this track, I pity you. The lyric ‘ I’m not scared of passing over, or the thought of growing old’ leading back into the final chorus is beautiful, and made just about every girl wish this was written with them in mind. 9/10.

10. What Do I Know?

The first thing that came to mind when this track was kicked in, was it is almost exactly the same sound he used for ‘Love Yourself’ which he co wrote with Justin Bieber. Once you get past that it’s quite a pleasant song about advice that’s been handed to him, and advice he will rally on to his children. It also describes the power of music as something that can change the world, which isn’t a surprising view to have from someone who’s world has been so drastically changed through the art form. A bit cheesy but a nice message. 7/10.

11. How Would You Feel (Paean)

A lovely acoustic guitar and piano intro to this song, the little melody the guitar is carrying is really pleasant. The chorus is nice on the ears and the song sees Ed, once again, confessing his love with a romantic interest. I took this as a recent relationship and is trying not to rush into saying the big ‘L’ word. Silky soul influenced guitar solo towards the end of the track just ties it all together. 8/10.

12. Supermarket Flowers

Ed Sheeran does these sad stripped back songs so well. This track is a tribute to Sheeran’s late grandmother and it is quite moving. The chord progression is very familiar feeling as Ed talks through the small details that can be so hurtful when we lose a loved one. The bridge of falsetto ‘ooh’s before the final chorus is appropriately angelic. A really classy and emotional tribute. 8/10.

13. Barcelona

I’m starting to feel a bit of an issue with the choice of track orders on this record (See track 7/8). Following on from the tear jerking Supermarket Flowers to a track almost exclusively about dancing. The opening line is literally ‘Well get up on the dancefloor tonight’ and you’ve hardly had chance to put your tissues away before Ed’s throwing you around a dancefloor. Aside from that this is a great, fun track that has a warm, tropical feel. A thudding beat keeps your foot tapping and you can almost feel the sun on your face. 8/10.

14. Bibia Be Ye Ye

Barcelona part 2. Ed wrote this track with FUSE ODG and it’s impossible to miss the influence. Another tropical style track just shows the mish mash of direction that Ed is going in with this record. Barcelona stood out to me as a fun one off track but now it’s difficult to tell the songs apart, just because the entire blueprints for the track are almost identical. There is nothing wrong with this song but it’s just unnecessary. 6/10.

15. Nancy Mulligan

Another Irish trad track from Sheeran as a tribute to his paternal grandparents, the track is named after his grandmother. I’ve got nothing against Irish music at all but I don’t understand how anyone can listen to this. It tells the story of his grandparents lives and when the cheers and claps kick in around the half track mark it’s painful. What is he going for with this style? The one your Irish nan will like. 4/10.

16. Save Myself

The final track on what has been quite a journey. Leaving on quite a sombre, but important note. Something a lot of peoples are guilty of is putting other peoples well being before their own, and this track shows Ed realizing he needs to put himself first. It’s quite a strange one really with this track quite obviously having something to do with his music helping fans. The final line on the record ‘Before I love someone else, I’ve got to love myself’ a gorgeous closing line. Just piano, strings and Sheeran’s voice. 9/10.

Well, that’s it. Overall the album gets the average of 6.8/10 which I’m happy with. Certainly not my favourite work from Ed Sheeran but it’s still been a pretty pleasant listen. I don’t think I’m going to be in a hurry to sit down with it as a full album again anytime soon but I can see myself picking off the tracks I enjoy.

What did you think of the album? Do you agree? Do you disagree? GET IN TOUCH!

First Hurdle Music.

 

February Album Of The Month

This is a strange one, I’m currently writing this post on the balcony of our hotel in Madeira, and yes, it’s warm, so yes, you’re jealous. Another strange thing about this post is that my album of the month isn’t actually my album of the month. Officially, my favourite record that February produced is Sampha’s ‘Process’. BUT I already did quite a lengthy review on that record here. Therefore I’m gonna give another album it’s time in the limelight. But first a little look at February as a whole.

Big Sean’s ‘I Decided’ was the first album I heard from February and I can’t lie, I was pretty disappointed. I’m not a huge Big Sean fan anyway, he definitely has his tracks especially from some of his earlier projects and his last effort ‘Dark Sky Paradise’ had some really promising songs hidden amongst the filler tracks. Regardless I tried to go into this album with an open mind and after sitting through the full thing, I can’t help but feel like Big Sean still hasn’t quite found his sound, or feet in the rap industry. He doesn’t bring anything new to the table here apart from a quite loose attempt at a concept album. 

On a lighter note, the first album I really enjoyed from February was HOMESHAKE’S ‘Fresh Air’. This record is a gorgeous blend of Synthpop and R&B executed brilliantly. The atmosphere on this project is really something unique. You get lured in with the slick R&B beats and melodic vocal hooks but then some unnerving keys will sneak into the mix to make you question how comfortable you really are. Check the track “Khmlwugh” for a great example. 

Syd, of The Internet fame released her debut solo album ‘Fin’. This was a close contender for my AOTM but just got pipped at the post. This is a luscious R&B album with very obvious hip hop/ trap influence. Bumped this a lot this month and if you like The Internet’s material as a band, I’ve no doubt you’ll enjoy this record. 

Jesca Hoop really surprised me this month with the release of ‘Memories Are Now’. The vocals draw comparison to Joanna Newsom and Bjork, particularly on the album opener. This is one of my favourite indie folk albums to drop this year and surprisingly this is my first taste of Jesca Hoop’s music! The instrumentation is great the strings sound gorgeous and really compliment her voice, a really solid release this early on in the year.

Animal Collective released an EP as a kind of counterpart from their latest full length, Painting With. The Painters EP just kind of carried on from where Painting With left off. Animal Collective aren’t the easiest band to get into so if you’re looking to, I definitely wouldn’t start here. Slightly more reined in from the full length but really not by much. Four tracks, short and very weirdly sweet.

On the same day, February 17th, we got the following records: 

Future gave us his self titled album, the first of two albums that he would release this month. This wasn’t my favourite of the two but I still thought it was a pretty enjoyable listen. Future’s mumbled vocal style and trap beats tend to get a bit samey after a while. Definitely still a great addition to the ever growing Future discography.

Jens Lekman released ‘Life Will See You Now” which was my first exposure to his music, and I loved it. This is a really great indie pop record with creatively, but familiar, crafted songs. It doesn’t take many listens for this album to sound good which was a pleasant surprise. Great lyrics and very easy to listen to.

Ryan Adams released his sixteenth (!!) studio album, Prisoner. A break up album delivered in Ryan’s developed indie country style. The lyrics are obviously very personal on the album topic but as a fan of Ryan Adam’s, the instrumentation is just a bit same old. He has his sound and he does it very well but he’s certainly staying in his comfort zone with this release.

Finally, on what was probably the strongest stand-alone day in February, Mark Kozelek’s – Sun Kil Moon released ‘Common As Light And Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood’.  This album clocks in at an impressive two hours and ten minutes. Even being into Sun Kil Moon, this is WAY too long for an album in my opinion, especially with music as draining as Kozelek’s. Regardless, I found the time for it and it is enjoyable. Kozelek is one of my favourite songwriters and he doesn’t let us down again with this release. Very creative folk music.

We saw Future embrace his emotional side on his HNDRXX release. I really enjoyed this album and preferred it to the self titled no question. With a modest two features from The Weeknd and Rihanna breaking up the album a bit.  

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard released the first of their FIVE albums they intend to release this year. Flying Microtonal Banana might be the dumbest album name on the list, but don’t write it off. This is a very experimental psychedelic album (no massive surprise). This is a solid release and the forty minutes seemed to fly. The guitar work is fantastic and I hope the quality doesn’t dip on the next four!

UK Grime artist Stormzy put out his debut ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’ which I was quite surprised with. I don’t mind a bit of Grime but I really enjoyed this record.  I was caught a bit off guard with some of the gospel and soul influences on this, something not usual associated with the Grime genre. But still for a debut album, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but if you enjoy Grime you’ll find something for you on this project.

Finally my album of the month..

    
Thundercat’s Drunk was only released on the 24th Feb, and I’ve hardly turned it off. On the first couple of listens it’s very warm and appears to be a great soundtrack leading the way into spring time. It’s only after a few more listens that I started noticing a bit more of a mysterious dark side to it. It’s a fun musical journey across the 23 tracks, some being interludes tying the longer tracks together. My one nitpick wth this album is the track Jericho, it’s just too short. Experimental funk, with jazz fusion and soul influences, there is just so much going on, but it’s produced to not be overwhelming. Thundercat doesn’t take himself too seriously which is great, the track Tokyo shows this perfectly. 

February has given us two of my favourite albums so far this year, being Sampha’s Process and Thundercat’s Drunk. I’m excited to see what the rest of the year will bring us. 

Four Albums Released Today To Soundtrack Your Weekend

This month has yet again been great for music, but today in particular. I’ll be doing a full month overview in my February album of the month but here’s four albums, all released on the 24th February, for you to be sinking your teeth into this weekend.

FUTURE – HNDRXX

After releasing a self titled album just last week, Atlanta based rapper Future returns with the album he’s “always wanted to make”, HNDRXX. Any artist brave enough to, even cryptically, compare themselves to Jimi Hendrix is worthy of your attention. With two massive features coming from The Weeknd and Rihanna, the album clocks an impressive 17 tracks spanning the 70 minute record. Although I’m yet to hear this project all the way through, Future is pretty consistent with his Trap style. I’ve no doubt you could throw this on to get you in the mood for a big night out this weekend.

THUNDERCAT – DRUNK

Thundercat has made quite the name for himself over the years. From being a session musician working with the likes of Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus, to contributing to Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed “To Pimp A Butterfly”. He returns here with his third studio album drunk. If the singles released from this album are anything to go by, we can expect more of the same great funk, soul and jazz fusion from Thundercat. There’s gonna be a lot of groove and the feature list is insane: Kenny Loggins, Michael Mcdonald, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell. I can not wait to sit down with this record properly.

PISSED JEANS – WHY LOVE NOW

A slight change of tune now, Pissed Jeans are a noisy, punk rock band. This is the fifth full length from the Pennsylvanian quartet. Their back catalogue is fantastic taking influence from an array of 80s punk bands. I don’t expect this effort to be any different. If you like the sound of forward thinking lyrics with classic punk influences, take this album for a spin.

Xiu Xiu – Forget

Californian experimental band Xiu Xiu have had quite a career. Only one member has the same throughout their 15 year career span. Their last full length was a full cover album of the soundtrack to the 90’s TV phenomenon, Twin Peaks. They return here with their thirteenth record, Forget. They blend creative electronic noises with classic pop and post punk influences. It doesn’t sound like it should work but it really, really does. If you want something to push your musical boundaries, give Forget a chance.

If you have heard or enjoyed any of these albums please get in touch and let me know! Also I’m always open for recommendations  myself if you have any.

First Hurdle Music.

Record Collection Update


Since I invest a lot of time and money into buying and appreciating vinyl, every now and again I’m going to post a small update on things I’ve recently bought. I’m a massive supporter of independent music shops and definitely encourage people supporting their local scene (See my post on record shopping in Manchester here).  So here’s the last five records I picked up.


Beginning with Solange’s critically  acclaimed 2016 effort ‘A Seat At The Table’. This is a gorgeous double LP on pure black vinyl. The disks are housed within lyric bound sleeves and a gorgeous photo covering the full side of one of the sleeves (pictured above). The records themselves feel very sturdy and have a decent weight to them which is great. This was one of my favourite albums of last year and I’m glad that I’ve finally grabbed a physical copy. I picked this record up online due to none of my regular record stores having any copies. If you’re into soul influenced and political RnB then this album from the lesser know Knowles’ sister will be right up your street.


Secondly this is The Antlers – ‘Live In London’ gatefold double LP. The Antlers are a really great indie rock band who’s album ‘Hospice’ is what brought my attention to the band (definitely worthy of a listen). This is surprisingly the first live album that I’ve bought on vinyl! I didn’t intentionally seek out this record but I saw it for sale in Fopp for five pound which for a double gatefold album is insanely cheap. Again on solid black vinyl a particular highlight is the dreamy rendition of ‘Hospice’ closer ‘Epilogue’. In the actual gatefold itself is a creative drawing of the venue which The Antlers played when this record was recorded.


Next is Sampha’s debut full length album ‘Process’. I wrote a review to this album here. Although this album is still very new (released only earlier this month) it’s certainly not to be ruled out as an early album of the year contender. It’s that good. On solid black vinyl the disk is housed in a sleeve with one side lyrics and credits, and the other a picture of Sampha as a child next to his late mother who this album is largely about. I picked this up from Piccadilly Records in the centre of Manchester for the very reasonable price of £15.99. This LP also came with a CD copy which is great for having on in the car or to pass on if you don’t play CD’s and want to put someone on to a great release.


Well well, what can I say about this album. With already reselling for prices no less than £150, I’m proud to say that I own a copy of Frank Ocean’s Blond(e) on wax. Available to purchase for only 24 hours on last years Black Friday I HAD to have a physical version of this album. In a stunning minimalistic gatefold sleeve, the artwork gets the black and white treatment. Again on solid black vinyl this has become one of the gems in my collection. On the right hand half of the gatefold you’ll find the picture above but that’s the extent of the artwork (I told you it was minimalistic). I shelled out around £50 for this record including international shipping.  But seeing how much people are paying for these now, I don’t think I would struggle to make my money back.


Finally is NxWorries’ 2016 effort ‘Yes Lawd!’. NxWorries is made up of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Anderson Paak and profound producer, Knxwledge. This is the Rough Trade exclusive clear vinyl pressing limited to only 300.  This is a double LP and the gatefold features pictures of both musicians responsible for the album. It took me a little while to warm to this record but now that it’s hit home, it’s become one of my favourite modern hip hop albums. The soul influences are insane on this album, with Paak literally name dropping Marvin Gaye and Bloodstone in one of the album highlights, Suede. I picked this up from Discogs online for around £30, which for a sold out limited record, still sealed, is more than reasonable.

This will be a frequent feature on the blog and I’ll update every time I pick up another five records or so. If you haven’t heard an album on this list, check it out, you might just find your new favourite artist.

First Hurdle Music.

A Guide To Record Shopping In Manchester

Whether you are a regular to the centre of Manchester or a visitor to this beautiful city, if you’re into buying records, it’s a fantastic place to be. In this article I’ll be giving a brief overview of my favourite places to record shop in Manchester, some independent and some commercial but all worth your time.


VINYL EXCHANGE

Vinyl Exchange is a great little spot in Manchester’s Northern Quarter with a huge selection of new and second hand records. It’s walls are plastered with memorabilia from the Manchester music scene, and an impressive amount of it signed. You can also pick up merchandise from Vinyl Exchange from bands such as The Smiths and The Stone Roses, legends in Manchester and worldwide. I’ve had a few great finds in here and everything is very reasonably priced for the condition and rarity. Their indie section is definitely worth a flick through, I’ve picked up a few gems in there!

vinyl-revival
VINYL REVIVAL

With quite a similar vibe to Vinyl Exchange, Vinyl Revival is a two floored shop again in the thick of Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Dealing mainly in used vinyl they have stock of almost every genre you could imagine. The shop is packed with racks and underneath crates full of bargain finds if you have the time to have a good dig. They also have a vast selection of 7″s with some very rare stuff, on my last visit they had an early Brand New 7″ which you, if you’re a fan of, know how hard it is to grab their stuff. They have a great electronic and experimental section which is great if you’re after that one record you might not find in the more mainstream stores.


FOPP

Fopp is the sister company to the humongous HMV. I have opted to include Fopp in this list over HMV (which Manchester also has a huge one) solely based on pricing. Fopp is just off Manchester’s busting Market Street and deals solely in new records. Although this is the most commercial store on the list, and I am completely in favour of supporting independent stores over chains, don’t write it off. Bizarrely you can buy records in Fopp that for the same album is more expensive in HMV. Although they mainly stock indie music and things you’d expect to see in a commercial store, they have a great hip hop and electronic section which you can find releases from Warp records and Hyperdub.


CLAMPDOWN RECORDS

Tucked up on a side street towards Manchester’s Piccadilly station you will find Clampdown Records. Another great independent record store with a hugely varied selection. The back wall in the store is plastered with signed records (available to buy) from some really big names in the music industry. Again you can find most genres you desire in Clampdown Records and it has a real authentic record store feel. Dealing in both new and used records there is some pretty rare stuff in here. It’s a smallish store but if you time it right it’s usually pretty quiet and you’ll have free reign of the racks, everything split into genre for convenience.


CHARITY SHOPS

You don’t have to go far to find a charity shop in the centre of Manchester, and like anywhere they can be full of hidden gems. If you have the time to sift through seemingly endless copies of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ (A great album but once you’ve bought it you’re sick of seeing it) it really can pay off. Most of the time, albums will be used and sometimes in pretty bad condition but you might get lucky! Everything is always extremely reasonably priced, usually due to people not knowing what their collection is worth. These are the people you’ll be praising when you’re leaving with a £20 record for £3.


PICCADILLY RECORDS

Probably the gem of record shopping in Manchester, Piccadilly Records puts the Manchester vinyl scene on the map. Again based in the middle of Manchester’s Northern Quarter and often counted in top record shops worldwide. When you’ve visited you’ll understand why. I’ve never been in when it’s not busy, but the store is a really decent size and there is plenty of stock for everyone to be flicking through. Everything in Piccadilly is new and still very reasonably priced, usually undercutting the likes of HMV by a few pound which is even more of an incentive to shop independent! If you only have time to squeeze one record shop in to your trip to Manchester, I’d make it Piccadilly Records.

What are your favourite spots to record shop? Get in touch and let me know!

First Hurdle Music.