BEAT CITY 63 – Tinfoil Deathstar (Sleeve Notes)

You can download Beat City 63 here

OH BOY! – Carrot And The Stick @ohboytheband

Northampton’s noisiest pop group recently signed to the excellent Oxford indie label Alcopop Records, home of Johnny Foreigner, Sam “Got Cape. Wore Cape. Flew” Duckworth, Katie Malco and The Spills among others, and to be honest I’d put money on Oh Boy! outdoing all of the above in time.

They’ve been steadily building interest for a year or so with airplay from the likes of Steve Lamacq on 6 Music and John Kennedy on Radio X (as we must now call it)

“Carrot And The Stick” is slightly less noisy than previous records but no less brilliant.

This is “Love And Other Difficulties” from a couple of years ago.

HALF JAPANESE – “That Is That” (from the album “Perfect”)

Unfortunately most famous for being the band on Kurt Cobain’s T-shirt when he died, Half Japanese were formed by brothers Jad and David Fair in 1977, their first album release a TRIPLE set “1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts” and sonologically and attitude-wise are a candidate for being the closest band to The Fall produced by the USA. Check the vocals for a start, and add to that the use of an out-of-tune guitar by mainman Jad who has gone on record as saying “you do need cords to plug the guitar in but that’s pretty much it”

This is from 2014’s “Overjoyed” album, which was their first in 13 years, so the release of “Perfect” in 2016 shows they’re on a mission to catch up for lost time.


Trip-hop legend Tricky is back with a new project called “Skilled Mechanics”, which refers to his collaborators on the album and apparently is a phrase used by the CIA for covert operatives who infiltrate organisations and governments with the aim of bringing them down.

The excellent Music Is My Oxygen site has this to say about the album:

“Some of those on board are no stranger to the world of Adrian Thaws, including regular vocalist Francesca Belmonte who lends her sultry tones to the eerie synth-balladry of “We Begin,” drummer Luke Harris who swaps the sticks for the microphone on a haunting piano-led cover version of Corey Taylor’s “Bother,” and fellow Bristolian DJ Milo who serves as producer on five of the album’s 13 tracks.

But it’s the new recruits who make the most notable impression. Kooky Danish chanteuse Oh Land sets the bewitching tone on the creepy beatless opener “I’m Not Going,” newcomer Xdare suggests FKA twigs may soon have some tough competition with the breathless alt-R&B of closer “Unreal,” while Chinese rapper Ivy also makes the most of her guest spot on the globe-trotting hip-hop of “Beijing to Berlin.”

As with his recent prolific output, Skilled Mechanics also proves that even at the age of 47 and with 11 albums to his name, Tricky remains anything but predictable. “Diving Away” finds him transforming the tortured alt-rock of Porno for Pyros’ “Porpoise Head” into a twinkling lullaby, while the sci-fi doom of “Necessary” is interspersed with the cover of Janet Kay’s “Silly Games” that appeared on his last record.”

“Skilled Mechanics” isn’t perfect by any means but its a damn good Tricky album that benefits massively from the various collaborations.

This is “Ponderosa” from “Maxinquaye” the album that everything else he does will forever be measured against.

MECHANIMAL – “Sunlight”

There’s something about the insistent, industrial – mechanical if you like – sound of Mechanimal’s new album “Delta Pi Delta”.

From the band’s website:

“After two albums exploring the dystopian universe of their city in crisis, the Athenian group Mechanimal delve now into the outskirts of their hometown, away from the sociopolitical fragmentation of the Greek capital, inside a deep and prolonged silence of the mountain forests surrounding Athens.

“Delta Pi Delta” started with a new lineup, erasing the events of a rather tense and tough past, focusing on nature as a means of escape from the modern depression of urban life. This time with female vocals, featuring lead singer Eleni Tzavara (formerly of Film and Etten), electric guitars by Tassos Nikogiannis and Kostas Matiatos, and electronic programming by Giannis Papaioannou, Mechanimal started recording the backbone of their new album during the spring of 2015, while final editing and mixing took place during August 2015, in an isolated room by some faraway beach.

The result of these new recordings is 8 new songs plus 2 instrumentals which will be included as extra tracks in the digital version of the album. Ten new tunes captivating the mystery that lies beneath a quiet life outside a big city. The group’s own hybrid blend of mechanical beats, shoegazing guitar drones and repetitive electronic patterns, shapes now a different perspective that embraces the strangeness and the atmosphere of dreamy landscapes around Athens. The materializing of these silent places into a conceptual sound revealed a new process, which helped the group transform their vision into a tangible medium.

The symbolical acronym title “Delta Pi Delta” is referring to the lyric “giving names to stars”. As a whole it represents the existential journey of any two-footed animal. In this journey, dreams reveal desires and fears that we’re not consciously aware of, but play an important part in consciously or subconsciously helping us become better at dealing with life.

“Delta Pi Delta” is dedicated to the loving memory of Greek artist and painter Nicholas Liber (1956 – 2013), a long-term friend of the band”

NO MADDZ – “Better Must Come “

One of the best bands in Jamaica just now, No Maddz’ self-titled 2015 album was produce by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, who also play on the album. The band are excellent in their own right, however, as this live version of the song shows – this clip also features the track “Shotta”.

HINDS – “Warts”

They’ve definitely got something about them, have Madrid’s Hinds. Frontwomen Carlotta Cosials and And Garcia Perrote met when their boyfriends were in a band whose name they’ve since forgotten.

They ended up writing songs together and recruited female rhythm section Ade Martin and Amber Grimbergen (the latter from Facebook) – in an overpopulated and male-dominated Madrid garage band scene, they knew it was important for the image to avoid people looking at the band and “everyone thinking the boys were writing and we were just smiling”)

There is something of the ramshackle chaos of the Libertines about them, and indeed they’ve supported Doherty and Barat’s “ultimate lads band” a couple of times.

The album is not perfect by any means, and a lot of commentators have noted that “that’s part of the appeal” which is fair enough I suppose.

This is “Chili Town” from the album.


Anderson Paak’s “Malibu” album is excellent, the first great album of the year as far as I’m concerned.

I love the 70s funk and soul sound to the record – not so much “Old Skool” as PRE-school – and while I haven’t yet had time to fully digest it.

Hey, you can’t possibly get the whole lyrical content of a rap album – or indeed the full force of the different samples and riffs – on the first four or five listens, which is probably why many people think they don’t like rap, but don’t get me started!

WHITE REAPER “Wolf Trap Hotel”

Ten thousand apologies for overlooking White Reaper until know, they’re superb. Not too many bands playing good hard keyboard-based garage punk these days. Similar in outlook to Hinds (above), their debut album is an absolute joy. I particularly love how the vocals sound lik ethey have been shouted down a megaphone.

They’re on Polyvinyl Records, who are the model for how all record labels should be IMHO. Cool as fook roster (I first came to the label through Of Montreal), no end of excellent special offers, and they send you extra badges, stickers, and in one bizarre instance chewing gum which always makes yer day.

This is the very strange video to the single “Make Me Wanna Die”. Keyboards in the style of Martha And The Muffins.

FAT WHITE FAMILY “Tinfoil Deathstar”

The new Fat White Family album “Songs For Our Mothers” is out now. The jury’s still out for me, I love the more immediate tracks but haven’t had time to give it a proper listen – some of the more “out there” tracks are still firmly in the “WTF” category for me, although this may well change.

It does sound like they haven’t cleaned up their act, sonologically or lyrically, since 2014’s “Champagne Holocaust” – if anything they’ve gotten more impenetrable, which is a good thing since they’re probably going to take a large part of their audience with them into some pretty dark places.

And if ever a band knew how to use the video medium, this is the definitely-not-safe-for-work “Touch The Leather”

PELL “Almighty Dollar”

“Limbo” is the second album from New Orleans-based rapper Pell, the follow-up to the well-received “Floating While Dreaming”

From “Limbo” this is “Cafe Du Monde”

THE DRINK “The Coming Rain”

The suggestion was made recently to The Drink’s songwriter, singer and guitarist Dearbhla Minogue that the band could sit happily in around 1987 as a cross between the Shop Assistants, Throwing Muses and the Bhundu Boys.

I can maybe see where the guy was coming from, at least on their excellent recently released debut album proper “Capital” but I think that’s a simplification.

One of the other standout tracks from the album is “Potter’s Grave”

THE OWL SERVICE “Salisbury Plain”

From the forthcoming album “His Pride. No Spear. No Friend” which could be the Owl Service’s finest record yet.

MOH! KOUYATE “Loundo (Un Jour)”

Guinean singer / songwriter / guitaris Moh! Koyuate played a blinder at the recent Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow. Here’s a link to his set which was recorded by the BBC.

Moh! Koyuate at Celtic Connections 2016

MAX RAPTOR “Blue On Red”

Another band out to demonstrate beyond any shadow of doubt that punk’s not dead.

Max Raptor hail from Burton-on-Trent. With Wakefield’s AllusonDrugs and Press To Meco who hail from Croydon they’re setting out on tour in February courtesy of the Scuzz UK Throwdown Tour.
Check the dates on this link:

Scuzz UK Throwdown Tour Feb 2016

From the “Damage Appreciation” EP – here’s the vid to the title track.


Describing himself on Twitter as “songwriter, producer, buttlord”. I have no idea what that means but I love this song.

Seems he’s supporting Villagers on tour soon, which I reckon is unmissable. See you dahn the front.

The album “Each Other” is out now – this is “The Arp”

Next week we’ll be playing tracks from Tuff Love, Press To Meco, Violet Skies and Trembling Bells, among others.

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Thank you. Come Again.

BEAT CITY 61 “feat. David Cameron” – SLEEVE NOTES

Listen or download the first Beat City show of 2016 here

MEILYR JONES “How To Recognise A Work Of Art” (from the forthcoming album “2013”)

Meilyr Jones is a pretty unique talent. He formed Radio Luxembourg while still at school, that band morphing into the Race Horses. Collaborations include Gruff Rhys, Stealing Sheep and Euros Childs.

But frankly all of that, fine though it is, pales into insignificance next to his solo work. “How To Recognise A Work Of Art” hits you firmly in the sonic solar plexus with its Motown beat set behind those oddly ethereal vocals.

Check out his recent session for Marc Riley on BBC 6 Music before it disappears from the site – as well as a great version of “Work Of Art” it also includes “Strange Emotional” and “Featured Artist”, both from the new album, confusingly titled “2013” since that’s when the songs were written.

HINDS “Warts” (from the album “Leave Me Alone”)

I’m scratching my head to think of too many Spanish bands that have made any sort of a splash in the English-speaking indie world.

Hinds hail from Madrid. They’ve gained attention over the last couple of years for their carefree, jangly guitar sound and their infectiously upbeat live shows.

Their debut album “Leave Me Alone”, however, shows a more multifaceted music – there’s a more downbeat approach to songs like “Warts” and the last single “Garden” which to my mind is a smart move – you don’t want to be TOO cheerful to sell records to indie / emo kids.

From the accompanying press release :

“These songs try to represent the 12 faces of love we’ve experienced.“

“It’s funny ’cause we thought this album would be all party and cheerfulness, but – SURPRISE – it’s not!!!!! haha. Feelings are more balanced, like in life. So suddenly we had a more sober – or even sad – album than we expected. Please don’t think we’ve turned into depressive people or something, we’ve always been humans, it’s just we’re now showing it to you.”

Fair enough, I’d say.

NOVELIST “Street Politician”

Kojo Kankam, aka Novelist, co-founded The Square grime crew (whose members have appeared on the Beat City podcast before) but left in late 2015 to push on with his solo career.
Artistically this looks like a very smart move indeed. December saw the release of the “David Cameron riddim” (lost in the pre-Xmas rush, a theme throughout these sleeve notes incidentally!)

and now Novelist has dropped the absolute killer track “Street Politician”, which actually samples our dear leader Mr Cam.

The best thing I’ve heard all year by some distance – why aren’t more people making records like this? It deserve to be a massive hit but I can’t see it getting too much airplay despite not having any bad words on it.

(see the final entry in the show for a further example of protest in current music, also featuring David Cameron)

SUMMER TWINS “Ouija” (from the album “Limbo”)

Summer Twins are sisters Chelsea (guitar, vocals) and Justine Brown (drums, vocals). They write dreamy rock ‘n roll songs with a touch of California sun. Born and raised in Riverside, Ca, they formed Summer Twins in 2008, with a focus on singing pop harmonies atop garage rock inspired by the ’50s and ’60s. Summer Twins play live with Michael Rey Villavicencio on bass and Andy Moran on guitar.

Their debut album “Limbo” came out in October 2015 – here’s another track from it.

LIZZO “My Skin” (from the album ….. “Big GRRRL Small World”)

Lizzo has this to say about this track :

“This is a summoning of bodies: all shapes, sizes and shades to unite in their pride, and wear their skin like the gift it is”

Check out Check out the rest of Lizzo’s thoughts on the track “My Skin” – they’re well worth a read.

VILLAGERS – “Memoirs” (from the album “Where Have You Been All My Life?”)

The new Villagers album is a collection of new recordings of songs from the last few albums. Always a potentially dodgy exercise but they really come through, not least on this superb, moody reading of a ‘Memoir’, which Conor O’Brien wrote for Charlotte Gainsbourg; it can be found on her 2011 album Stage Whisper, but has never before been recorded by Villagers until now. Here’s the Gainsbourg version.

Looking forward to seeing them perform the new arrangements on their forthcoming tour of Europe. See you dahn the front!

COUSIN STIZZ “Dirty Bands” (from the album “Suffolk County”)

Brilliant 13-track mixtape from Boston’s Cousin Stizz, making serious waves further afield. Not a dodgy track on it – check out this one for size.

BEATY HEART “FLORA” (from the forthcoming album)

Here in Beat City we took Peckham popsters Beaty Heart’s debut album “Mixed Blessings” right to the core of our (beaty) hearts.

It contained some wonderful summery beats into an indie wrapper with some really messed-up lyrics sung with a jaunty bounce that made it easy to forget the often very dark subject matter.

The lead track for the second album has just been given the accolade of Huw Stephens’ single of the week on Radio One, which is excellent news 8=)

The album is produced by David Wrench, who has worked with Caribou, Jungle and FKA Twigs. Presumably the band are aiming for a wider audience, which is no bad thing, just as long as they don’t lose their quirkiness along the way – basically David, make it less Jungle and more FKA Twigs / Caribou, would you? Just play “Lekka Freakout” loud if you feel its all getting a bit too commercial. Ta.


Mechanimal is an industrial audio-visual unit hailing from Athens, Greece, led by Giannis Papaioannou as main producer, songwriter and keyboardist, solely responsible for the direction of the band.

Mechanimal’s musical language can be interpreted through a wide range of genres, featuring male and female vocals on mechanical repetitive beats, shoegazing guitar drones and pulsating sequencers.

Their first album, simply titled “Mechanimal”, was released in 2012 by Inner Ear featuting Freddie Faulkenberry on vocals and Tassos Nikogiannis on guitars. On stage, Mechanimal employed video visual elements created by Angelica Vrettou.

Their second album, titled “Secret Science”, was released in 2014 by Inner Ear featuring the same vocalist and Kostas Matiatos on guitars.

For the recordings of their third album Giannis Papaioannou assembled a new line-up featuring both past guitarists, but female vocals by Eleni Tzavara. This third album, symbolically entitled by the acronym “Delta Pi Delta” will include 10 tracks and will be released by Inner Ear at the beginning of 2016.

The touring band for the new album features a revolving line-up (with Eleni Tzavara on vocals, Tassos Nikogiannis on guitars, Giannis Papaioannou on keyboards, Antonis Charalambidis on drums), that often rearranges songs to fit in this new live setting which is always accompanied by the video fragments projected on stage by Angelica Vrettou.

This is also from “Delta Pi Delta”:

SEA PINKS Ordinary Daze (from the album “Soft Days”)

Sea Pinks have been around for a while, starting out as the one-man project of singer/guitarist Neil Brogan, who made three bedroom albums on which he played everything himself before expanding the line-up for 2014’s “Dreaming Tracks” to the classic indie band lineup of guitar,bass,drums and – erm – cello (anyone remember the Grammatics? No? Just me, then)

“Soft Days” sees them stripped down to a three-piece and I think Brogan has achieved his aim for “a tighter, more cohesive record”.

Definitely their best record yet.

You can buy the album on Bandcamp – the band gets more money that way – heck, you can get the VINYL for thirteen quid.

This is the opening track from the album if you need further convincing:

BEAR GHOST “Funkle Phil”

From Phoenix Arizona, Bear Ghost beg the question on this single “How much Queen is too much Queen?”

Bear Ghost know the answer, as the Darkness did before them, is to go for it “full Freddy”.

If that was all there was to this band, though, they’d quickly become tired (as the Darkness did) but that is certainly not the case. Check out Necromancin’ Dancin’, available from bandcamp on a pay what you like, its superb.

Listen to “Necromancin’ Dancin’ here

ENNIO MORRICONE “Overture” (from “The Hateful Eight” soundtrack)

We’re not huge fans of Tarantino movies post-Jackie Brown here in Beat City, but each to their own.

On the matter of music, however, you can generally trust Quentin, and he’s surpassed himself by persuading legendary film music composer Ennio Morricone to write the score for “The Hateful Eight” (in fact as I write this I’ve just seen that he’s won the Golden Globe for best score. He has to be a good bet for the Oscar next month, surely? .
Unbelievably he wasn’t even nominated until 1979 and has only ever received an honorary one, in 2007, which I’ve always thought was a bit of a “whoops, sorry, we missed you out all those times, you’re going to die soon, have an award”.

It would be a fitting and well-deserved end to a great career if he were to win now.

This is one of Morricone’s best known themes:

LIZZO “Betcha” (from the album “Big GRRRL Small World”)

A more typical track from Lizzo’s excellent album which sneaked out at the end of 2015.

STEVE MASON “Planet Sizes” (from the forthcoming album “Meet The Humans”)

Inspired by his relocation from the London city to the Brighton sea, Planet Sizes is taken from his new album, Meet The Humans, which is out on Double Six on 26 February. While its uncluttered leading track gradually unfurls into a celestial acoustic melody, the rest of the album sees the songwriter experiment with dance, pop, folk, dub and deep house influences. Following his “double political concept album” Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time and his debut solo album, Boys Outside, a collection of songs that wrestle with the end of a relationship and his subsequent breakdown, this third album was recorded with Elbow keyboardist and producer Craig Potter, and is a move towards a more simple ethic. It is “an album where each song is a separate entity, where there is no great narrative running through it,” he says.

There’s an excellent animated video accompanying the track, directed by Anna Ginsburg

SQUEEZE “Cradle To The Grave” (live on the Andrew Marr show)

Protest music’s seemingly gone out of fashion, a subject I keep meaning to write about at greater length.

There don’t seem to be too many younger rock bands making any sort of stand, which seems strange at a time when you may reasonably expect a bit more dissent.

On Sunday, seventies popsters Squeeze closed the Andrew Marr political show on BBC1 with their catchy theme to Danny Baker’s sitcom “Cradle To Grave” .

Prime Minister David Cameron was a guest on the show and singer Glen Tilbrook changed the words of the last verse into a pointed attack on his government, with him sitting three feet away on live television.

It may not bring any governments down, but its a start.

“I grew up in council housing
Part of what made Britain great
There are some here who are hell-bent
On the destruction of the Welfare State”

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece and listening to the podcast.

Beat City #63 will be available to download on Sunday 17th January 2015, with the sleeve notes following the next day.

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Thank you. Come again.