Saturday, 16 December 2017

New Music: Tom Adams - Fade (Ben Lukas Boysen Rework)

Silence by Tom Adams is a truly special album. Quiet, reflective and full of space, it’s a record that in many ways seems out of place in this fast-paced world. It is therefore all the better for it. This song, Fade, isn’t on Silence, but is from the earlier Voyages By Starlight EP. However, it is still very representative of Adams’ sensitive songs that you will find on the debut long player. 

This new rework by Ben Lukas Boysen starts from the most hushed of places and then builds to create something that is akin to Sigur Ros jamming with Nils Frahm, although I’m not sure if jamming is the right word – softly sculpting is probably a better choice. Hang on to every moment of this beautiful piece of work, you won’t regret it.

On his Facebook Tom has posted a small story about the photo above: “Ben and I decided to hit up a vintage photo booth in Berlin to try and get a cuddly team photo for this release. Unfortunately, some passers-by decided to get involved aggressively and this photo captures the moment someone reached into the booth to punch Ben. Proving the adage of 'don’t get a nice guy angry', Ben sorted it out like a champ and we got this shot to commemorate the occasion.” It's hard to imagine two men who create music like this getting into any sort of trouble. For me this is the sound of love.

Tom Adams - Fade (Ben Lukas Boysen Rework)

Friday, 15 December 2017

New Music: Poppy - Bleach Blonde Baby (Video)

“She is the sort of celebrity who could not have existed even half a decade ago: born of and beloved by the internet, and essentially unknown outside of it,” the Guardian wrote of Poppy the other day. They pretty much nailed it.

Poppy is not in a cult. She does not believe in cults. Or so she tells us in this very cult like video (here). Yet once you’ve entered her slightly creepy, alien, wooden world of pastel colours, a mannequin called Charlotte, a basil pot plant and a man called Titanic Sinclair it’s hard not to get sucked in. There’s something weirdly compulsive about her You Tube channel. It probably explains why she’s had over 230 million views on it and it's rising by the day. People love her. Just like she tells them to (in this disturbing video here)

I’ve often suggested both here and on Twitter that there’s a big disconnect between streaming statistics and punters who will actually turn up to a live show, but with so many streams it was perhaps inevitable that someone would want to see what Poppy does live and this week I went, mainly out of curiosity, with a whole bunch of Poppy obsessives, to see her first ever UK gig at The Garage in London. OK it's still only a 600 capacity venue, but at least punters did turn up.

Rather like Poppy’s musical output online, live she probably isn’t quite as odd as you might want her to be. Ultimately the gig was still a straightforward pop show with singing, dancing and flashing lights. But on the other hand there aren’t that many pop shows that start with an hour of Toto’s 80’s hit Africa being played on a loop, a DJ set by a mannequin, an artist asking numerous times ‘Do you love me?' And measuring the audiences love with a love meter, and a man telling the audience to shout Monster Energy drink in response to one of the artists videos (this one). 

To coincide with the gig Poppy has released a new music video. I’ve never featured the music of Poppy on the blog before, partly because a lot of it is just too cheesy, too saccharine, too Barby Girl-ish to be considered of any lasting merit, and whilst Bleach Blonde Baby still very much sits on that side of the fence there’s something (rather like her alternative universe conversation videos) that is ridiculously possessing about it. Maybe it’s the synth riff that sounds like a beginner learning to play Like A Virgin by Madonna, the lyrics that describe that if you cut her she’ll bleed pink and that one day her face will be on a million dollar bill, the way that the video sneaks in Charlotte the mannequin sitting in the congregation at the church of Poppy without you really noticing, or the stupidly happy looking people waving giant fluffy letters spelling the words ‘Everybody Dies'. Or maybe it’s just the fact that the whole thing, rather like the whole Poppy project, is just a very modern, very youthful, satirical take on celebrity culture. 

Poppy - Bleach Blonde Baby (Video)

Thursday, 14 December 2017

New Music: Johnny Marr & Maxine Peake - The Priest (Video)

I’ve had a few days away from the blog, but during that time there is one piece of music I heard that absolutely blew me away. So better late than never I'm casting it here. It’s the new collaborative single between Johnny Marr and actress Maxine Peake.

As time goes on and we all get that little bit older it seems that Johnny Marr is becoming ever more likeable and ever more wise, the opposite to Morrissey, the man he once had a special creative relationship with, who dives deeper and deeper into a world of hate and awfulness. 

Therefore, it should be no surprise to find that unlike Morrissey's at best patchy album, Marr has created something cinematic, powerful, intimate and graceful. It's staggeringly good. But more than that. The Priest is compelling because it’s so thoughtful. 

Taking as its starting point the words of Joe Gallagher, a man who was homeless, that has used his ability with words to make his life a bit better, and delivering them through a female voice from Peake, before casting a young actress in the video (20 year-old Molly Windsor), the whole piece avoids stereotypes and joins the dots between all types of people. This is pop music / art with a social conscience; and it makes you think that anyone could fall into this situation given a bad deal.

If only Morrissey could take a few lessons from Marr. This one gave me goose bumps. A very meaningful piece of work.

Johnny Marr & Maxine Peake - The Priest (Video)

Sunday, 10 December 2017

New Music: Grace Carter - Ashes (Video)

No sooner had Brighton’s Grace Carter appeared on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2018 list on the back of just one song, there’s a second one to add to the collection. The follow up to Silence, Ashes is a soulful electronic cut that deals with the frustrations of post-relationship mental anguish and not being able to get someone out of your head, even although it’s over. As Grace sings of drowning the memories and being unable to lay the love to rest it’s clear that things are still pretty raw here, even though the delivery is utterly composed and sophisticated, the equivalent of musical satin.

Ashes has drawn in some big guns to work with Grace; the track was produced with Mike Dean who has worked with the likes of Frank Ocean, Beyonce and Kanye West.

Grace Carter - Ashes