Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Spoilt Bastard Christmas Wishlist

With everything Facebook has got on me I'm always surprised that their 'pages you might like' researchers (in the right hand side column) don't delve a little deeper into the mind of my click finger than pushing adverts for Airwaves chuddy and Italian Weddings. They must know I ain't clicking. But this week they caught my eye with this monstrosity. Yes, it is that flower. Good, God no. What am I doing that makes Zucherberg and co think I would like to buy the 'James ultimate boxset'?

Look at the size of it! Mind you its not as big as some of the 'bundles' I've just spent the past hour Googling.  Whatever happened to asking for ONE CD for Christmas? So in the spirit of everyones favourite Viz character- Spoilt Bastard- I shall give you the run down of what's (not) on my list to Santa.

"Would you like your Gran to get you a CD from that Andy's Records son?"
"Oh ay' Mother. Can you tell her to get me the 'Blur 21: The Box + Parklive: Deluxe 5 Disc Set + T-Shirt + Mug + Tote Bag Bundle'?"
"Fair enough son. how much is it going to cost her?"
"£205. And tell the greedy fuck I want a Mars selection box too..."

Quite frankly if you still haven't got round to picking up a copy of Parklife I wouldn't bother. It was good, but unfortunately you've missed the boat. And if there is a disc somewhere in there amongst all the that tat called 'LIVE AT THE BRIT AWARDS 2012' you're probably better off with the James collection above.

Blur: Blur 21: The Box + Parklive: Deluxe 5 Disc Set + T-Shirt + Mug + Tote Bag Bundle
And what the frig is a tote bag anyway? Pretty sure from my school days they were the PE kit bag of shame. Speaking of shame, I bet when the Manic Street Preachers promised to make one album and then clear off in a blazing ball of rock'n'roll credibility, they never imagined it being re-branded like this? 

Generation Terrorists 'what's in the box'

"But why don't you like your Xmas present son? You said that all you ever wanted for Christmas was a 'Generation Terrorists' dog tag?"
"No you cretin. I wanted a 'Holy Bible bracelet' to wear with my 'Gold Against the Soul nose ring'. GET IT RIGHT MOTHER!"

"OK. Pass that big red tin of Fox's Chocolate biscuits over son. I'm parched for one of those gold foil-wrapped ones." 
"Gettaway Mutha! It's the 'Screamadelica 20th Anniversary Limited Collector's Edition' you daft twat!"
"Oh sorry son! I am a dick."
Screamadelica - 20th Anniversary Limited Collector's Edition
Is there anything more soul destroying than a 'making of' DVD even if it is for an album as great as Screamadelica? Thanks all the same but I don't really want the extra tracks that weren't good enough for the original. 
The T.Rex album The Slider was one of the first records I ever heard (cheers Dad) and it is indeed a fantastic LP. 'A' being the important word. THIRTEEN top tunes on ONE album. Not all this toss.
Aside from a million versions of the album it comes with essays, sheet music, Bolan fan club letters, membership cards, rosettes, concert stubs, posters, stickers, patches, bags, locks of Bolans pubic hair (probably) and its own video trailer, but, "I STILL WANT MORE!"

Hold on Josh. I thought you were a DJ not a hitman dentist, because this is just plain creepy. What is that? Every single tune, mix, scratch and fart from the once great Mr Shadow himself. Complete with essence of DJ Shadows actual shadow reformed into an acrylic kryptonite slipcase.
And finally the 'flogging a dead record' award goes to... as always... THE STONE ROSES! Listening to music used to require an amp and a turntable but you need planing permission to own this beast. IT ONLY HAS ELEVEN TRACKS! (Which are all pretty good I might add) although this no doubt has fifty times that. But you get a bunch of really cool artwork postcards and a presentation box. Great.

So there you have it. Even in the Boxing Day sales your £15 HMV voucher isn't going to go very far. So tell your Gran to stick her vouchers, get out the plastic and order one of these many Pink Floyd box sets.

More of this type of cynical nonsense can be read HERE. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Something For The Weekend #10 REMIX

Hell yeah! Two of the best albums from last year have been remixed in full and they are quite sensational. Firstly MOGWAI have released 'A Wrenched Virile Lore', a compilation of remixes from 2011's 'Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will'.  Their 2001 remix album 'Kicking A Dead Pig' was a blinder but this surpasses it. They are also the best at song names ever. Stream the entire album HERE or if you can't handle an hour of it take in my personal highlight below, an Aphex like rehash of single 'Rano Pano'.

Secondly the Horrors have let some buggers loose on their masterpiece 'Skying'. It's called 'Higher' and you can stream it HERE... AND I HIGHLY RECOMMEND DOING THIS. 
If you have a spare £50 you can own thIS amazing super-duper boxset... If you have a spare £100 you can buy one for me too...

Higher Limited Edition Box Set

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Best of 2012 in a Refreshingly, Despondent Nutshell

Years that end in a 2 or a 7 tend to be pretty good music wise and although 2012 will probably not go down as being of the calibre of say, 1997 (or 1962, 1967, 1977, 1982, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007- not sure about 1972 & 1987?!) I feel that on reflection it has produced some interesting stuff. This is the year they played FUCK BUTTONS at the Olympics for Christ sake! However, having read umpteen end of year ‘best of lists’ over the past few days I’m sick of it (minus the VO’s of course). One look back at your own 'best of list' from as recently as 2009, you realise our memories are short, our standards were low and there aren’t many of those coveted 'great albums' that you’re still spinning. So lets get some perspective and celebrate the true 2012. Here is my list of why the past year in music has properly sucked.

Where to begin? I guess the fact that 2012 introduced me to the worst single I’ve EVER heard is as good a place as any. No joke, either. Step forward GREEN DAY. I wasn’t into Green Day when they were supposedly ‘good’ twenty years ago, but could tolerate a few minutes of it. But this new ’un was something special. Christ knows what their TRIP(L)E  album sounds like, but if its like that single I heard (don’t know the name, can’t be bothered to find out. Would rather type ‘Free Animal Porn’ into my browser search engine) then the fans are in for a treat. JUST GROW UP!  
All hail the THE VACCINES who snuck in at number two to claim second worst tune of 2012/my life/human existence.  Remember this is my ALL-TIME list of HATE (previously including the Foo Fighters, B*witched, the Kooks and every post 1998 Oasis song). Quite a feat Mr twenty twelve.

2011 had THE HORRORS. 2012 Had TOY. In the words of Richard IV in Blackadder; ‘as excrement compared to cream’.

Contrary to the VO list (and nearly every other one) I’m not really understanding how TAME IMPALA are getting so much qudos for doing a bit of Lennon karaoke. To be fair I haven’t heard that much of it but whilst my copy of ‘Twist and Shout’ still works I’m not arsed about finding out. And whoever it was who excitedly told me JAKE BUGG sounds like Cast, yes! you were right. Speaking of CAST Wikipedia tells me that they released a chuffing album in 2012, ironically titled ‘Troubled Times’. That HAS to be great, right? (Although my worst album purchase of 2012* goes to MAN FOREVER and ‘Pansophical Cataract’. Thirty five minutes of miserable, rhythmic pain.)

*I realise the above wording makes it sound like I BOUGHT the new Cast album. I didn’t. Nobody did.

I feel a bit mean slagging off ALT-J as I think they are alright and they do have a few decent tunes. I also sort of enjoyed seeing them support Wild Beasts earlier in the year, but I’m getting into this now and, well, it’s just a bit shit isn’t it? For me Wild Beasts pull it off and weather the storm through my Antony and the Johnson-esque this-is-creepy-uh-oh-what-the-fuck-am-I-listening-to doubts and find a beautiful, melodic place of oh-hang-on-this-is-really-great. Alt-J don’t. It’s just so OK its sickening. And ‘An Awesome Wave’ is an album name even David Gray wouldn’t touch.  My predicition for Alt-J is they will either follow the path of other Mercury champs (Speech Debelle, Gomez, Badly Drawn Boy) and quickly disappear OR go the other way and become massive, multi-million selling headlining superstars which will unfortunately mean in order to reach a larger audience they will get wetter and subsequently more irritating (Coldplay, Keane. etc). So I can’t see myself picking up their follow up LP which will no doubt be called ‘A Crescendo of Calm’ or something equally vile. Is that fair enough?

More lies about the twenty year wait for MY BLOODY VALENTINE’s follow up to ‘Loveless’ pissed me right off and also 2012 had the nerve to be a year with no new FALL album. Unacceptable. At least DODGY released some new material…
As for having no desire to “desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses" the less said on that the better. By my reckoning, in 2014 we will be able to celebrate the reformation of EVERY band from the nineties. Next year we have Rialto, 18 Wheeler and Hurricane#1 to look forward to. And Oasis no doubt. (Where is the Heathen Chemistry ten year re-issue anyway?)
And what in the name of Roll With It were BLUR doing soiling so heavily on their worth at the Brits. Quite embarrassing.  On the subject of confusing comebacks, go and listen to a bit of THE D.O.T, (new project from Mike Skinner from The Streets and Rob Harvey of the Music) I DARE YOU! Sensationally bad…

But enough cynicism and miserablism from me. Let us enjoy this brief period of back-patting and mix tape swapping before the slate is wiped clean for another year.  Twenty twelve, like every year briefly is when we do the annual December look-back, was the best year EVER. Thankfully my desire for finding new exciting music is as alive as it was 15 years ago. Just don’t make me listen to that XX album again. Or ANIMAL COLLECTIVE... 
'2012 is dead! Long live 2013!'

Saturday, 1 December 2012


Following on from the VO Best Albums of the Year list posted last week, here is a link to a mixcloud of 15 or so tunes, making up some of my personal choices for 2012. The mix can be found by clicking on the adjacent flashy, GIFF  image of the album sleeves. 

Its about 55 minutes long and is smoothly(ish) mixed together  in a vague attempt at being 2 Many DJs. Its called BRING ME THE HEAD OF SUSAN BOYLE and quite frankly its the last thing I have to say on what I think has been a pretty impressive year for new music. 

My own definitive list can be found HERE. See you in 2013.


Friday, 30 November 2012

Velvet Owl Single of the Week

'The Baddest Man Alive' - The Black Keys/RZA

This track features The Black Keys and Mr Bobby Digital himself, RZA. I don't think you need any more information than this to play the video.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Best Albums of 2012

Having myself, cocked a snook at Uncut Magazine's best albums of 2012 list, I should not be surprised if readers of this blog raise an eyebrow at some of our choices for records of the year. While Tame Impala, Sharon Van Etten and Richard Hawley are probably going to appear in a large number of best of 2012 lists, I wonder how many will feature The Pre-New, Karriem Riggins or ZZ Top? Not many, I guess. But quite frankly, who cares? These were the Velvet Owl Gig Collective's favourite records of 2012. We played them, sang along to them, danced to them, heard some of them performed live, but most importantly, they reminded us why we love this crazy mixed up kid that we call pop music. 

Have a great Christmas everyone. We'll see you on the other side. 
  1. One Day I'm Going to Soar - Dexys 
  2. Tramp - Sharon Van Etten 
  3. Standing at the Sky's Edge - Richard Hawley 
  4. The Lion's Roar - First Aid Kit 
  5. Give You The Ghost - Policia 
  6. Lonerism - Tame Impala 
  7. Django Django - Django Django
  8. Put Yr Back Into It - Perfume Genius 
  9. Kill for Love - Chromatics 
  10. The Echo Show - Yeti Lane 
  11. Given To The Wild - The Maccabees 
  12. Coexist - The XX 
  13. Boys and Girls - Alabama Shakes 
  14. Heaven - The Walkmen 
  15. World Music - Goat
  16. Lido - Darren Hayman
  17. A & E - Graham Coxon
  18. Blunderbuss - Jack White
  19. Cyrk - Cate Le Bon
  20. Bloom - Beach House
  21. Music for People Who Hate Themselves - The Pre-New
  22. Visions - Grimes 
  23. WIXIW - Liars
  24. My Head is an Animal - Of Monsters and Men
  25. Circles - Moon Duo
  26. Persistnet Malaise - Cold Pumas
  27. Manifest - Friends
  28. Both Lights - AU
  29. Words and Music - Saint Etienne
  30. Shields - Grizzly Bear
  31. Nootropics - Lower Dens
  32. Piramida - Efterklang
  33. Sorry to Bother You - The Coup
  34. Port of Morrow - The Shins
  35. Alone Together - Karriem Riggins
  36. Tosta Mista - Hooded Fang
  37. Sweet Heart, Sweet Light - Spiritualized
  38. Young & Old - Tennis
  39. Wild Peace - Echo Lakes
  40. >> - Beak
  41. Allah-Las - Allah-Las
  42. Calendar - Motorama
  43. Furniture - Race Horses
  44. Sweet Sour - Band of Skulls
  45. Algiers - Calexico
  46. Blues Funeral - Mark Lanegan
  47. King Animal - Sound Garden
  48. La Futura - ZZ Top
  49. The Haunted Man - Bat for Lashes
  50. Choice of Weapon - The Cult

Friday, 23 November 2012

Velvet Owl Single of the Week

Local Natives - Breakers

On the strength of their criminally overlooked debut album Gorilla Manor and this blast of sun-blissed pop, we have already reserved a place on our best albums of 2013 list for the new long player Hummingbird. 

Friday, 9 November 2012

Velvet Owl Single of the Week

Foals - Inhaler

This makes me want to ram my head into the speakers. Forget single of the week, this is the single of the fucking year!!!!!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Something for the Weekend #9 Cold Pumas

Cold Pumas. Sounds a lot slicker than an Arctic Monkey and their debut album does a lovely take on Sonic-Pavement-Youth. You can stream the whole album HERE but you really should pre-order the lovely looking vinyl over at FAUX DISCX. Mostly because it looks like a Hockney painting but also the fact that as I type this there are only 68 of the 500 left.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Fall, Epic Studios, Norwich

The recent publicity for the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles "Love Me Do", and subsequent re-visiting of all things mop-top across all forms of media, called to mind a comment made by a pre-fame Kurt Cobain, some twenty-odd years back.  Cobain's assertion that the Fab Four wrote every pop song it was possible to write, and that all subsequent acts have merely re-hashed the Lennon/McCartney back catalogue, is difficult to argue with, and it is clear that the Beatles continue to cast a long shadow over the world of popular music.  To give the Nirvana frontman his due, he more than most in recent years manged to put a different spin on the songs that changed the world, and one always had the feeling Lennon would have approved of Cobain's music and refusal to abide by industry rules.  In his short time as the frontman of the world's biggest band, Cobain constantly sought to reinvent his band's sound and had no interest in standing still.  "In Utero" was a long way from being "Nevermind II".

But to find a band who have truly continued to push things forward, eschewing all claims to commerciality whilst honing a sound that is uniquely their own, one would have to go a long way to touch the majesty of The Fall.  That they can pull this number of diehards to a former TV studio (the home of Trisha!) in the heart of Norwich on a wet midweek evening, with no new material to push, is testament to their continued appeal.  That the sound continues to be this uncompromising, yet still undeniably pop and in thrall to the sounds coming out of Liverpool half a century ago, offers proof of the genius that is Mark E Smith.  Yes, genius is a much over-used word, but an hour in the man's company leaves you in little doubt.

Tonight, Smith is on imperious form, prowling the stage, microphone in each hand, twiddling with the amps and driving his tremendously well-drilled band to new levels of excellence.  Of course, the lyrics continue to be as unintelligible as ever, but that voice is now so iconic that just the fact that sounds are emerging is more than enough.  The set draws mainly from more recent material, with "Bury Parts I and II" from "Your Future Our Clutter" providing a clear mid set highlight, but it is during a much deserved encore that things go stratospheric.  Smith performs a blistering "Reformation" from behind the speakers at the side of stage, looking at once both ridiculously like a scalded schoolboy and like the coolest man alive.  Near-hit "Theme From Sparta FC" keeps the pace at furious levels, before a final, triumphant run through "Mr Pharmacist" sends the faithful away ecstatic and reminds all just how long The Fall have been cranking out shit this good, constantly at the top of their game.

If The Beatles truly did write all of pop music, then better The Fall continue as the keepers of the flame, rather than the dullards regularly foisted on us as the next big thing by the music media.  We will never see their like again.  Enjoy them while you can.

The encore of the Fall gig and an interview with MES can be viewed HERE


Monday, 22 October 2012

GNOD, Goat, Teeth of the Sea The Lexington, London

I’ve been looking forward to this one. Three of my favourite bands of the past few years courtesy of Rocket Recordings, the coolest label around with great ears for some of the loopiest psych, prog-post-rock electronics this side of 1998. Oh and their records look lovely too.

So arriving just as GNOD start their psychedelic 45 minute spin out over waves of effects and a backdrop of audible moon dust, I realise I have no idea what the members of Gnod do or look like. Apparently people slip-in and out of the band when they like and the jam-style nature of their live set means you aren’t going to see the same Gnod twice. Tonight however they are a fairly conventional band set-up fronted by a bowl-cutted singer who looks like an Inspiral Carpet inside the frail body of the boy from the Secret Garden. In a paisley shirt. Tomorrow night the frontman will probably be a pile of Hawkwind records and a bong.
Although improvisation sounds a little dirty and indulgent in 2012, Gnod make their sludgy psychedelic space rock sound less like a stoned jam but a genuine attempt at treading new sonic ground. The primordial drum beat leaves the entire audience spellbound, apart from the few who are as high as a kite and plod out a trance like dance. Last track Tonys First Communion which is played over spiralling stained glass visuals, threatening organs and samples of a Catholic church service, makes the transition from last years InGnodWeTrust LP very well, and confirms for me that Gnod are one of the most exciting bands around.

You can’t beat a band in a mask. Daft Punk (always). Slipknot (hell yeah). Eminem (chain-sawing in 2001). The Manics (a balaclava-clad Faster on Top of the Pops). The list goes on, and GOAT are no exception as they greet the crowd like extras from Live And Let Die the musical. Despite the guitarists execution mask being a bit too creepy, they look amazing and his shuddering guitar sounds alongside the tessellating, kaleidoscopic visuals from their LP sleeve help provide a deranged atmosphere.
With this being Goats first EVER gig I naturally had a few doubts about how their fantastic debut would come across live. No worries there as Goats sound is rabidly high-powered and the strength of tunes such as Goatman, Let it Bleed and Run to Your Mama mean they just can’t fail. The singer and voodoo ‘Bez’ figure duel dance their way through the set with a vague suggestion they are referencing something more sinister, but more likely its the only possible way to do these bat shit crazy songs justice. By dancing.
I‘ve read quite a few reviews of Goats debut album but words only seem to further confuse, as it really is all over the place. Afrobeat? Psych-trance-metal? Krautrock? Some Stonesy bits. Some Disco bits. Ah, just go and get it. A large crowd of fans brandishing vinyl copies of World Music was a pleasure to see. I hope our paths cross again very soon as I get the impression that Goat, like many great bands, may not be around for that long. I haven't ever checked YouTube the day after a gig before but I really wanted to see these Swedish rockers do their stuff for a bit longer. Here is what I found.

So to finish, and following that onslaught those poor bastards TEETH OF THE SEA have a difficult task. But despite the room thinning out a little they do a mighty fine job of interpreting the ferocious atmosphere and electronic elements of their 2010 album You’re Mercury. It was this LP that helped me into discovering many delights from the Rocket Recordings roster, so I was pleased to hear elements of it tonight. The bands use of synths alongside live trumpets gives them an amazing sound which I’m reluctant to pigeon-hole as post-rock, but it certainly isn’t ‘rock’ of any kind I’ve heard before. What is remarkable about TOTS live is how they are seemingly in complete control of these sounds and unnerving noises, and produce a lion-taming display of raging, penned-in sonics, which is exactly what I want to be faced with on a Friday night.


Friday, 19 October 2012

Velvet Owl Single of the Week

A late contender for our albums of the year list, singer-songwriter Josephine Oniyama's Portrait is full of instantly hummable pop music that sounds perfect in the autumn sunshine. The new single 'Original Love' is released on the 22nd October.

Josephine - Original Love

Best Songs of the Nineties

Having been inspired to put together our favourite albums of the 90s following a chance meeting with Martin Carr at this year's Green Man Festival, the Velvet Owl have gone one step further and chosen their favourite songs from that decade too. I'm sure there are a few in here that will have you raging into the night and questioning our taste, but I'm sure you will get over it. 

1. Babies - Pulp

2. Straight to You - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

3. Dry the Rain - The Beta Band

4. Unfinished Sympathy - Massive Attack

5. Live Forever - Oasis 

6. Motorcycle Emptiness - Manic Street Preachers
7. Undone (The Sweater Song) – Weezer
8. Cut Your Hair – Pavement
9. Give Me Daughters – Jonathan Fire Eater
10. Kowalski– Primal Scream
11. Waitin’ For Superman – The Flaming Lips
12. Wishing I Was Skinny – The Boo Radleys
13.  Loser -Beck
14. Something 4 the Weekend – Super Furry Animals
15. Sabotage –The Beastie Boys
16. Come Together (album version) - Primal Scream
17. If I Can't Change Your Mind - Sugar
18. You Got The Love – The Source
19. Natalie’s Party – Shack
20. Alcoholiday - Teenage Fanclub
21. Someday I Will Treat You Good – Sparklehorse
22. All Apologies - Nirvana
23. Trigger Cut - Pavement
24. Blue Flowers – Dr Octagon
25. Olympian – Gene
26. Lazarus - The Boo Radleys
27. Cannonball - The Breeders
28. Common People - Pulp
29. Bill Is Dead - The Fall
30. The Asphalt World - Suede
31. Born Slippy - Underworld
32. Fanfare – Eric Matthews
33. Tonight we fly – Divine Comedy
34. Ice Hockey Hair - Super Furry Animals
35. For Tomorrow - Blur
36. Race For The Prize – The Flaming Lips
37. Ladies and Gentlemen We’re Floating in Space (Elvis version) – Spiritualized
38.  Dress - PJ Harvey
39. Fuzzy – Grant Lee Buffalo
40. Groove is in the Heart - Dee-Lite
41. Silver Machines – Cardinal
42. Birdy– 22 Pisterpikko
43. Lover You Should Have Come Over - Jeff Buckley
44. Regret - New Order
45. Why Don’t You Take Me – One Dove
46. Loaded - Primal Scream
47. The Concept - Teenage Fanclub
48. Waltz No.2 – Elliot Smith
49. Gepetto – Belly
50. Cigarettes Will Kill You – Ben Lee
51. Golden Skin – Silver Sun
52. End Credits - Laptop
53. Tomorrow – James
54. Friends of P – The Rentals
55. Inside story – Chris Knox
56. Another Day, Another Riot – The Toasted Heretic
57. Wise Up – Aimee Mann
58. Papua New Guinea – Future Sound of London
59. You Were meant For Me – Jewel
60. Superstar – Superstar
61. I Think I'm In Love - Spiritualized
62. Standing At The Doorstep Of Love - The Rockingbirds
63. Digital Black Epilogue - Urge Overkill
64. Don’t I Hold You – Wheat
65. Da Funk - Daft Punk
66. Higher State of Conciousness - Josh Winx
67. I See a Darkness Bonnie Prince Billy
68.  No Diggity - Blackstreet
69. The Man Don’t Give a Fuck - Super Furry Animals
70. Summer Babe - Pavement