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What's new in iJamming!...
Wed, Mar 21, 2001
The iJAMMING! interview: DAVID SYLVIAN
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
HEDONISM:
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
CHAPTER 1 now online with QuickTime videos and music
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
The iJAMMING! chat:
MARK PERRY

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
The Return of Shoegazing:
DOVES take New York by swarm
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES
FEATURED WINES
FEATURED ALBUMS
LAPTOP
Roll The Credit
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
TRAVIS.
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
The JAMMING! Gallery part 3: the covers from issues 25-36.
MUSIC ON THE WEB
Why it's hard to sympathize with the music industry
Featured Artist Web Site:
LLOYD COLE
MIX ALBUMS:
Who, what and why you should bother
Featured wine web site:
HONIG
Featured vine:
VIOGNIER:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE.
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
SUPERDRAG
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
WINE AND MUSIC:
What wine fans and music devotees have in common.
The full iJamming! Contents
DECEMBER CHILDREN . . .
While December is the busiest time of year for people working on the retail side of music, those of us who make (part of) our living reviewing music see the month as providing a brief respite between the onslaught of major albums that precede the 'Holiday Season' and the equally hefty if rather less high-pressured attack of 'new acts' inevitably unleashed in the new year. Rather than taking a month away from music, I usually seize on this down period as an opportunity to catch up on all those records I didn't get to earlier in the year. Some of these date back several months, though for reasons I don't fully undertsand, the year 2000 saw an enormous number of marginal albums and new acts released in October and November, during which time I must have recieved at least fifty mix CDs, a wonderful addition to my party music shelf but hardly conducive to individual assessment. And given that magazine and newspaper editors have to concentrate on the Radioheads, U2s, Fatboy Slims (not to mention the Ricky Martins , Backstreet Boys and R Kellys) of this world, the likes of coverage being afforded Kriedler, the Dumdums and Longwave - to name just three obscure but worthy examples - is near minimal. So for the next month, as I get through my backlog of music while getting on with other things, then rather than simply consign the better releases to the "maybe next time" corner of my mind, I'm going to assign them a prominent position on the web site. Right here. Links lead to label or artist web pages, click on sleeves to (hopefully) hear tracks. Click here for Dec 1-8.

Thursday December 28

TWO LONE SWORDSMEN
TINY REMINDERS
WARP

Initial listening to this third album by the duo of Andrew Weatherall (he of Primal Scream 'Loaded' remix fame and Sabresonic/Sabres of Paradise credibility) and lesser-known partner Keith Tenniswood revealed something very dark, distinctly uncommercial, and almost deliberately unappealing. But the more I play this, the more I get into it; the minimalist electro rhythms have a grooving charm on tracks like'Machine Maid,' 'Cotton Stains' and 'Brootle' thanks to their funky bass lines, and though thematic title cuts such 'Tiny Reminder No. 2,' with its studio hum all over the speakers, are wilfully awkward, there's more than enough of interest on this 18-track album to reward repeated plays. Almost all of it is entirely machine-manipulated - just beat boxes, bass lines, and atmospheric synth sounds with occasional melodies - and that makes the live guitar and drums of the penultimate 'It's Not The Worst I've Looked, Just The Most I've Ever Cared' all the more jarring. But then that too is probably intentional. Weatherall long ago abandoned any notion of working in the mainstream, but his obstroperous attitude is easily matched by his innovative outout. As long as he's happy with what he's doing as a producer, then I'm more than content as a listener.
Weds. December 27

THE CHURCHILLS
YOU ARE HERE
ABRUPT/UNIVERSAL

An album that near enough disappeared upon release back in August, You Are Here keeps fighting its way back on to my CD player, early evidence that NYC is harboring a number of promising power pop bands (check also Kitty in the Tree, the Rosenbergs). As befits the genre, The Churchills are blatantly traditional in their approach, but confident enough of their obsessions that, when singer Ron Haney complains to his ex that "you still have my Beach Boys" on the song 'Gonna Take A Lot TO Stay,' the group breaks into acapella harmony for the line. Such a knowing sense of pop history results in a handful of mini gems on this debut that would surely, in a different musical climate, chime out from top 40 or 'modern rock' radio: there's the romantic infatuation of the opener 'Beautiful (Coulda Woulda)', the harsher guitar rock of 'Disposable' and 'Wrong Side of the Bed,' and the 6/8 swing of 'Cars.' But Haney's singing is soft, much like Squeeze's Glenn Tilbrook, and when accompanied by light production, as on'Cold as Steel.'occasionally results in pure mush. That's why the vocal contributions of bassist Kim Henry are so vital; her singing on 'Headstrong' and 'Maybe Make The Day' suddenly turn the band from fey Britpop balladeers to Manhattan maneaters like prime period Blondie or Holly and the Italians. And that can never be a bad thing.

Tony Fletcher
Friday December 22

BOB SINCLAR
CHAMPS ELYSEES
SUBLIMINAL

Time for a holiday rant before I shut up shop for a few days. The attraction of Le French Disco is wearing thin. Bob Sinclar - yes of course it's a pseudonym - scored a major Gallic goal last year with his involvement in the novelty hit 'Gym and Tonic.' This past summer, he followed up with a proper house classic and European anthem 'I Feel For You,' a perfectly good reason to find this album -- it's got the funk, the bass, the filters and the diva vocals, and all of them in all the right places. But lyrically, the song is generic, the standard house eulogy to hormones, and while Champs Elysees has its share of other strong musical moments, the lyrics are such basic disco cliches that they are, really, almost unbearable. Repetitive, too: there's the grating gospel message of 'Got to be Free' ("dancing to be what you are"), the um, grating gospel message of 'Life' ("set your spirit free"), and, just to drive the point home, the grating gospel message of 'Freedom' ("to have fun, share a little joy"). Let me not even talk about the slow funk and totally vacuous lyrics of the subsequent 'Darlin.' This kitsch French approach to disco, with its requisite use of filters and EQ effects and vocoders, is in dire need of an upgrade; I have a feeling Daft Punk's aggravatingly infectious new single 'One More Time' is going to put the whole thing over the top and out of fashion. It's a shame, because when Bob Sinclar concentrates on the music - the early minimal instrumentals 'You Are Beautiful' and 'Striptease' being the obvious examples - he's well worth the price of entry.
Thursday December 21

NIGO
APE SOUNDS

MO WAX

Mo Wax rarely releases straightforward albums anymore. If label honcho James Lavelle isn't working on something like his overblown U.N.K.L.E project then he's signing Tommy Guerrero, a skateboarder or, in this case, clothing designer Nigo. Founder of the Tokyo streetwear company Bathing Ape, it's hard to discern what Nigo does on his solo album apart from play drums and take co-songwriting credits, but as long as the results are this strong, who cares? Almost frighteningly varied, Ape Sounds takes in the Japanese punk rock of 'Jet Set,' the big beat of 'March of the General,' a laid back Money Mark vocal on 'Simple Song,' hard reggae on 'The Very Urgent Dub,' the bruising female vocals of Julia Ferreria on 'Monster,' the rapping of Tokyo's Toshi on the very Asian trip- hop of 'Kung Fu Fighting,' and the yearning voice of Australian Ben Lee on the commerical indie rock of 'Free Diving.' To be blunt about it, this is the album that U.N.K.L.E should have made - an international journey through modern musical trends that doesn't fall intro the trap of sounding trendy.
Weds. December 20

THE GENTLE WAVES
SWANSONG FOR YOU
NEVER

You might know Isobel Campbell as half of Belle and Sebastien, one of the most successful indie acts of recent years; and even if you don't, you should definitely know her too for her somewhat solo project The Gentle Waves, whose second release Swansong For You is the kind of album most people would happily consider as a career pinnacle. Swansong For You is designed as an old-fashioned long-player, which means, of course, a CD sleeve that looks like an old album cover, but also means a break between the five songs on 'side one' and the five on 'side two,' an album just 36 minutes in total. Certainly there's nothing wrong with old-fashioned brevity, when each song is as delicate and yet immediate as Campbell's. The arrangements favor drum brushes over sticks, acoustic guitars over electric, and think nothing of the occasional flute, saxophone, double bass or glockenspiel. Strings bolster 'Let The Good Times Begin' and 'Partner in Crime,' a French sixties cinematic feel accompanies 'Falling From Grace', a 6/8 time signature distinguishes 'Loretta Young,' and even when the energy level rises to 12-bar blues, as on 'Sisterwoman,' it's recorded at the kind of volume that pays deference to a sleeping granny next door. An absolute charmer.
Tuesday December 19

VARIOUS ARTISTS
SIMPLY MAD MAD MAD MAD ABOUT THE LOSER'S LOUNGE
ZILCHO

Not to be confused with the Acid Lounge, the Loser's Lounge has become a Manhattan institution since the then-underemployed pianist supreme Joe McGinty launched it in '93 as an opportunity for non-working downtown New York musicians (i.e. most of them) to sing popular (i.e. other peoples') songs. A kind of Karaoke for the kooky, with McGinty's Kustard Kings as the backing band. Paying tribute to such unlikely heroes as Elton John and Neil Diamond, The Loser's Lounge became such a success that it now hosts four-night runs at the Westbeth Theater. I attended its Kinks tribute in October, and it was a delight, a riotous night out with some truly inspired renditions. Understandably, in committing the Loser's Lounge experience to tape, some of the visual atmosphere is sacrificed, which means the best renditions are the ones that dare most: Justin Bond cracking Harry Nilsson's 'Coconut,' Robin 'Goldie' Goldwasser's accentuated version of the Monkees' 'Randy Scouse Git,' They Might Be Giants carving up The Zombies' 'Butcher's Tale' and Tony Zajkowski from Lotion rendering Carole King's 'Pierre' a theatrical singalong. Check out the web site if you like, buy this album by all means, but more importantly, if your trip to NYC coincides with a Loser's Lounge residency, treat that option as seriously as a potential Broadway booking.
Monday December 18

HYBRID
WIDE ANGLE
KINETIC/ DISTINCTIVE

A year ago, Hybrid were the techno tip for the top. The buzz on their singles, remix work and live shows all suggested that they were contenders to join the elite league occupied by Underworld and Orbital. An American live debut at the open-air Sixth Element Festival in New York last summer showed they could vibe up even the most laid back and dehydrated of crowds. But the album didn't happen. There seems to be a couple of reasons for this. Primarily, Wide Angle is just a little too cerebral in a market that always prizes beats over brains. For all that Julee Cruise lends her lovely vocals to songs like 'If I Survive,' and 'Dreaming Your Dreams', French rapper Soon E MC gives 'Sinequanon' a world flavor, and some Floyd-esque guitar work punctuates the bubbly techno beats, the group seem unwilling to kick into high gear with the grooves and deliver a dancefloor classic. The other reason for the album's rapid disappearance in the States is more frustrating: a legal battle between indies saw Kinetic fored to lift the album off the shelves. If you have the US version (pictured here), with a couple of different mixes from the UK one (to which the link takes you), you're onto a rarity. Time will tell whether it actually accrues value.
Friday December 15

SUBMARINE
SKINDIVING
KINETIC

I'm a sucker for girlie pop. From the Shirelles to Blondie, the Supremes to the Januaries, do it well and I'm yours. Do it with some interesting, innovative beats and I'm even easier to convert. Recently, however, there's been such a flurry of semi-electronic, trip-hop styled, female-fronted acts that, after disappointing live shows (Mono, Olive) and even more disappointing sophomore albums (Olive again, I'm afraid), my patience has been wearing thin. Praise be then to Submarine, about whom I knew absolutely nothing until airing this debut album. Fourteen solid songs deep, the UK trio's MO ranges from mellow low-tempo breaks ('Sunbeam') through cinematic drum and bass ('Why') stopping off several times for some aggressive mid-tempo (and not overtly electronic) pure pop ('So This Is Love?') and even campfire acoustic singalongs ('Blow Me Away'). On 'Evergreen' and 'Sweet Life,' vocalist Adeasi Ukairo sounds very much like Sarah Simmonds of the underrecognised State of Grace. The lyrics too, especially on 'Welcome To This World' and 'Sunbeam,' are well above the norm, eager to confront the legacy of both Jesus and John Lennon. Came and went without leaving a trace, but then isn't that so often the way?
Thursday December 14

VARIOUS ARTISTS
FREE ACTIVATION SERIES VOL 2
COMPILED AND MIXED BY DJ NASIR
SWEET MOTHER

Amidst the abundance of mix CDs aimed purely for the feet, the second in DJ Nasir's Free Activation Series on the decidedly-worth-watching-for label Sweet Mother stands out for a number of all-too-often ignored purposes. Firstly, it takes in several genres, from ambient armchair electronica (Plastiq Phantom), through rap-infused drum and bass (Bahamedia), Latin disco (Snowboy) and sampled-soul break beats (Hairy Diamond). Secondly, it does so without ever sounding like a compilation - a rare achievement, aided in this case by the use of space age radio transmissions for occasional segues. Thirdly, it performs this public service without ever dropping a dud on us; though not every style of music might be up your street, at least each example is interesting enough to tide you over until the next. And finally, it introduces to the casual listener a considerable number of little known North American and European acts he/she might otherwise not come across. Think of it as a radio show for the soul - if not necessarily the sole. (And have some wine with it: or at least cruise a wine producer's web page or two!)
Wed. December 13

JOE ROGAN
I'M GONNA BE DEAD SOMEDAY
WARNER BROS

Sometimes, especially after working one's way through some of the dross that passes for new music, there's no more guilty pleasure than succumbing to a politically incorrect stand-up comic for an hour. Joe Rogan's routine, recorded at a club in Houston, would appear completely homophobic but for the absolutely brilliant skit on homoerotica masquerading as homophobia that opens this album, which in the process suggests that most of his xenophobia and sexism (actually, it's less sexism than sex addiction) is mere character play. To me, the mark of a good comedian is when he/she gets you laughing at yourself, and it doesn't get any better here than when Rogan takes the piss out of English football (I.e. Soccer) supporters and our fondness for being crushed to death on the terraces. It's not a funny subject. Really. Except that in Rogan's hands, it's hysterical.
Tuesday December 12

ECHOBOY
VOLUME 2
MUTE

As with Badly Drawn Boy, I can't emphasize enough how great it is to hear a record that defies easy categorization, but unlike the Mercury Prize Winner and all-round critic's darling, this one I can listen to all day long. The first three songs alone throw up visions of Spizz Energi, Suicide, PiL and Yello, but to a decidedly Millennium beat: 'Turning On' starts quietly, builds into a vocal assault on the new age, then gets all repetitive and droney with booming drums and screaming synth lines; 'Telstar Recovery' sings of being "down in the underground" and indeed sounds like the vocals have been recorded inside a tube train, and 'Kelly's Truck' is wonderful dark techno with childish backward vocals. It mellows out in the middle, rendering it just short of a classic, before picking up with 'Sudwestfunk No.5,' which throws some country blues into the harsh electronic mix, and then continuing the assialt with 'Circulation,' all late sixties psychedelia with a voice like Al Jourgenson's on top. Echoboy seems as resolutely dismissive of public perception as the Aphex Twin, but he's more naturally commercial, and if his output remains as prolific - this is his second American album this year - it's only a matter of time before he clicks with the masses.
Monday December 11

PAUL HORN
TIBET: JOURNEY TO THE ROOF OF THE WORLD
TRANSPARENT MUSIC

It starts almost identically to State of Bengal's 'Visual Audio,' with a jet taking off and an airline pilot announcing our musical destination. But in this case we're going beyond India to Katmandu, Tibet, where renowned jazz musician, new age pioneer and world traveller Paul Horn recorded his flute and clarinet playing in some of the world's most sacred temples and palaces ('Inside the Patala,' 'Grand Assembly Hall') to the sound of prayer chants ('Morning Prayer') and, in a more lighthearted example, alongside roof workers ('Roof People Work Song'). Some of the music has been amended back in the west, but none of it is world beat and Horn is beyond cultural tourism; this is essentially the calming sound of his soothing woodwind gently complementing the aural traditions of an ancient culture. And if that sounds easy, you try arranging permission to record in the most venerable temples of a remote and occupied country. An album to meditate by - or possibly, smoke a jazz cigarette with at the end of a hectic western day.
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