31 Mar 2012

Justin Townes Earle - Nothin's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now (Review)

Being the muscially inclined offspring of the famous must be a bit of a double edged sword.
On the one hand you're guaranteed a certain amount of interest before you've even recorded a note, and when the time comes to lay that note down in the studio, chances are it's been a little easier for you to get record company backing to do so.
On the other hand there's an expectation that you'll sound like Dad ( despite Paul Simon's son Harper being the only famous son I can think of who actually does sound like his dad ), and the more cynical among us will inevitably question whether your record deal was earned on your own merits, or whether you're just riding on the coattails of your folks.
When you're also named after a legendary songwriter ( in the shape of Townes Van Zandt ) most would throw in the towel.
Justin Townes Earle doesn't seem phased by any of this. He's signed to Bloodshot Records, a label noted for it's ability to pick up young talent ( early releases included Ryan Adam's Heartbreaker and Neko Case's first few albums ) and with no ties to famous dad Steve.
And while he shares a lot of influences with Steve, once they've been filtered through his system they come out a whole lot different.
Justin generally avoids the third person narratives that his father and Van Zandt excel and excelled at, in favor of a much more personal first person approach. He takes an almost Dylanesque approach of combining the intensely serious loser in love with the likeably Chaplinesque hobo.
There's definitely been some growing up over the last few years though. Harlem River Blues showed him plumbing previously unsuspected depths, and Nothin's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now shows further development.
While the material here is still most easily classified as roots or americana, a lot of the country trappings have been trimmed away. The steel guitars are mostly gone, replaced by standup bass and muted trumpet.
These changes, as well as a noticeably subdued pace on the majority of these cuts give the album a much more mature and dare I say it, contemporary sound. My guess is that he's been listening to a lot of Van Morrison lately. The horn charts, muted trumpet and unobtrusive keys owe a lot to Morrison's late seventies and early eighties albums, not to mention the vocal phrasing, the first verse of Lower East Side in particular.
There's also hints of the yearning Ryan Adams managed to capture occasionally on his earlier albums. It Won't be the Last Time being the best example, with it's sparse acoustic guitar and vocal arrangement giving the song a little more space than the generally fuller arrangements of the other tracks allow.
These more sophisticated arrangements present Earle in a way that may be more palatable to a wider range of listener's, but he's managed to do it without compromise.
Another solidly consistent album then, but we're still waiting for that one great song that will break him to a wider audience. It's not on this album, but he's getting much closer to it....

You Can Buy Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now On CD Here
Or On Vinyl Here

You can stream the whole album here : http://soundcloud.com/justintownesearle/sets/nothings-gonna-change-the-way

29 Mar 2012

Can To Release Rarities Box Set, Listen To The First Track Here.

All of you Can fans have reason to rejoice. Not only do you have impeccable taste, but that taste will be rewarded on June 19 by the release of The Lost Tapes, a 3CD Box Set of unreleased rarities recorded between 1968 and 1977 featuring the core quartet along with  Malcolm Mooney and Damo Suzuki on some tracks.
The band's keyboard player Irmin Schmidt, Daniel Miller, and Jono Podmore have culled this down from over 30 hours of material from the group archives, which were stored in their studios. When the German Rock n Pop Museum bought the studio from the band recently, the tapes were rediscovered.
The box will include material left off their classic albums due to time constraints on the original LPs, tracks recorded for soundtracks of films which were never completed and some live tracks.

Listen to Millionenspiel, the first track to be released from the box below.

Download The Active Listener's Journey Into The Unknown Mix

It's time for another ( hopefully ) thrilling mix put together for your listening pleasure by the Active Listener.
This mix is a neo-psychedelia primer which makes no claims to being definitive but will hopefully be entertaining or educational to someone out there.
Copyright holders : this was put together to convince prospective fans to listen to and buy more of your artist's work. However, feel free to get in touch if you wish to have anything removed.

1. Epic - Car Sick (Available here on the Sails album Headful of Stars)
2. The High Dials - The Dead Hand (From The Album A New Devotion, Available Here)
3. Clinic - Memories ( From The Album Do It, Available Here)
4. Broadcast - Where Youth & Laughter Go (From The Album Future Crayon, Available Here)
5. The Gurus - Kamala Part 1 (From The Album The Gurus, Available Here)
6. Wolf People - Cotton Strands (From The Album Tidings, Available Here)
7. The Soundcarriers - Caught By The Sun From The Album Harmonium, Available Here)
8. The Green Pajamas - A Murder of Crows (From The Album The Complete Book Of Hours, Available Here)
9. The Pillbugs - Friend For a Day (Currently Unavailable)
10. Buffalo Killers - SS Nowhere  From The Album Buffalo Killers, Available Here)
11. Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound - The Slumbering Ones (From The Album When Sweet Sleep Returned, Available Here)
12. Dog Age - I Love You (Currently Unavailable)
13. Caribou - Melody Day (From The Album Andorra, Available Here)
14. Dungen -Panda (From The Album Ta Det Lugnt, Available Here)
15. Espers - Meridian (From The Album Espers III, Available Here)
16. Tame Impala - Bold Arrow Of Time (From The Album Innerspeaker, Available Here)
17. Citay - Nice Cuffs (From The Album Citay, Available Here)
18. Mini Mansions - Crime of the Season (From The Album Mini Mansions, Available Here)
19. The Olivia Tremor Control - Jumping Fences (From The Album Dusk at Cubist Castle, Available Here)
20. Malachai - Snowflake (From The Album Ugly Side Of Love, Available Here)
21. Pram - The Owl Service (From The Album The Museum of Imaginary Animals, Available Here)

Download Here : http://www.mediafire.com/?20h02fr4qvdtmc4

27 Mar 2012

Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania News

EMI have announced today that they'll be releasing the new Smashing Pumpkins studio album, Oceania, on June 18. The album will appear on Billy Corgan's own label Martha's Music.
EMI Label Services's Mike Harris said: "We are thrilled to extend the long-term partnership between The Smashing Pumpkins and EMI with the release of 'Oceania'. Everybody at EMI is looking forward to working closely with Billy and the band to help them deliver their vision and their music to fans around the world."
Billy Corgan is insisting that the album is the best he's delivered since Mellon Collie in 1995, and word from industry insiders who have heard the finished work is also very positive.
The tracklisting for 'Oceania' is :
'Stella P And The People Mover'
'The Celestials'
'Violet Rays'
'My Love Is Winter'
'One Diamond, One Heart'
'Pale Horse'
'The Chimera'

Check out a live performance clip of Quasar here:

Tallest Man On Earth Unveils New Album, There's No Leaving Now

The Tallest Man On Earth has announced that his new album, There's No Leaving Now, will be released on June 12 in the U.S, and June 11 in the U.K.
He had previously premiered the title track at a live show in Sweden in a band format, leading to speculation that the album may also include a rhythm section for the first time.
Listen to the live capture of There's No Leaving Now ( Thanks to 24bit ) here :
There's No Leaving Now:
01 To Just Grow Away
02 Revelation Blues
03 Leading Me Now
04 1904
05 Bright Lanterns
06 There's No Leaving Now
07 Wind and Walls
08 Little Brother
09 Criminals
10 On Every Page

26 Mar 2012

Check Out Ekki Múkk The First Track From Sigur Ros' New Album Valtari

Sigur Ros have confirmed in an interview with Q Magazine that their new album will be released on May 28.
Valtari ( translated : "steamroller" ) will feature no English lyrics and will be centered more on electronics, and makes use of strings and a girls' choir, the band noted in this interview.

The tracklisting for Valtari will be :


1 Êg Anda

2 Ekki Múkk

03 Varúð

04 Rembihnûtur

5 Dauðalogn
6 Varðeldur
7 Valtari
08 Fjögur Píanó

Sigur Rós - Ekki múkk from Sigur Rós on Vimeo.

Watch Belle & Sebastian's Crash Video

Belle & Sebastians's second Late Night Tales compilation is out today, highlighted by their cover of the Primitive's classic "Crash ".
Stephen Tolfrey has created a new video for the track below.

The full track list for the compilation is :

1. Broadcast - Ominous Cloud
2. The Wonder Who? - Watch The Flowers Grow
3. Joe Pass - A Time For Us
4. Mulatu Astatke Yekermo Sew - A Man Of Experience And Wisdom
5. Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges - Tudo Que Você Podia Ser
6. Marie Laforêt - Et Si Je t'aime
7. Bonnie Dobson - Bird Of Space
8. Dorothy Ashby - Soul Vibrations
9. McDonald And Giles - Tomorrow's People
10. Gold Panda - Quitters Raga
11. Broadcast - Chord Simple
12. The Pop Group - Savage Sea
13. Stan Tracey Quartet - Starless And Bible Black
14. The Lovin Spoonful - Darling Be Home Soon Sony
15. Belle And Sebastian - Crash(Exclusive cover version of The Primitives)
16. Roland Vincent - L.S.D. Partie
17. Toro Y Moi - Still Sound
18. Ce'cile - Rude Bwoy Thug Life
19. Remember Remember - Scottish Widows
20. Trees - Streets Of Derry
21. Blood, Sweat & Tears - Spinning Wheel
22. Pete Shelley - Homosapien (Dub)
23. Steve Parks - Still Thinking Of You
24. David Behrman - On The Other Ocean
25. Paul Morley - Lost For Words pt.3(Exclusive spoken word piece)

Crash will also be available as a Ltd Ed. 7" for Record Store Day from selected independent record stores.

25 Mar 2012

Green Pajama's Summer of Lust Set For First Ever CD Release

Originally released in 1984, Summer of Lust was the first Green Pajamas album and was only released on cassette ( apart from a very brief vinyl run in 1989 ).
The fine folks at Green Monkey Records are working hard on it's first ever CD release. Green Monkey have released a number of Green Pajamas related releases including a very thorough reissue of the Book Of Hours with lots of bonus material. If the quality of that reissue is anything to go by Summer of Lust should be a real treat. Those that have heard the very scarce original Summer of Lust have overwhelmingly positive things to say about it.
Tom Dyer from Green Monkey Records had this to say today  : "Spent 12 hours yesterday working on remastering the Green Pajamas' first cassette release, "Summer of Lust." Some of it involved working from the original cassette master, some finding earlier generation cassettes that Jeff has hidden around, selective use of noise reduction to battle tape hiss. It is coming along pretty nicely. I think I got Mr. Ross to agree to finish up the cover this week and we are on track to have this out in May."
Check out the Green Monkey Records website here : http://www.greenmonkeyrecords.com/

23 Mar 2012

Krzysztof Komeda - Cul-de-sac - Obscure Classics (Review)

Krzysztof Komeda - Cul-de-sac ( 1966 )

A celebrated Polish free-jazz musician and film scorer Krzysztof Komeda had already been used by Roman Polanski to score his tense drama / thriller Knife in the Water. Komeda's soundtrack for Polanski's classic black comedy Cul-de-sac is an entirely different kettle of fish and is as lyrical, quirky and entertaining as the film itself.
A short but impressively evocative beast with only 7 tracks and clocking in at under twenty minutes, it was only released as a 45rpm E.P originally and has been particularly sought after since. Fortunately Active Distribution have seen fit to couple it with Knife on the Water for this CD release so it's now readily available for the masses - well, the niche masses who enjoy this sort of thing anyway.
There's a surprising and impressive variety to be found here, considering it's short length.
The title track is a memorably quirky, playful piece with a sinister undercurrent, which sounds like something John Barry would come up with if given the chance to replace his spy guitars with a theremin.

Pushing The Car is a tightly structured jazz noir piece with a memorably hypnotic theme that wouldn't sound out of place on one of Henry Mancini's Pink Panther scores.
Walk On The Water continues Pushing The Car's noir strut with some nice muted trumpet added.

Radio One and Two are exotic lounge pieces, heard on radio in the film, and give Komeda a chance to flex his piano playing chops and lighten the mood a little.
Dicky's Death is a looser piece with some atonal sax work, sinister, rattling percussion and loping basswork, with a neat revisit to the main theme working it's way in.
Then closing theme is arranged for a rock group format with a more conventional time signature, some subtle guitars and bass as well as the return of the theremin.
Great stuff, definitely my favorite of Komeda's scores up until his creepy masterwork Rosemary's Baby.


22 Mar 2012

Paul & Linda McCartney's Ram Deluxe Edition's On The Way

May 21 sees the next release in The Paul McCartney Archive Collection. Ram was originally released in 1971, his second album after the Beatles break up, and the only album of his career to be credited to Paul & Linda McCartney. It's also generally regarded as his finest post Beatles work barring Band on the Run, and who am I to argue? It's a pretty great album.

It'll come in these formats:

Standard Edition: 1 CD digipak Single disc, digitally remastered 12- track standard edition
Special Edition: 2 CD digipak Remastered album and 8-track bonus audio CD featuring
  1. Another Day (from Apple single R 5889, 1971)
  2. Oh Woman, Oh Why (from Apple single R 5889, 1971)
  3. Little Woman Love
  4. A Love For You (Jon Kelly Remix)
  5. Hey Diddle (Dixon Van Winkle Mix)
  6. Great Cock And Seagull Race (Dixon Van Winkle Mix)
  7. Rode All Night
  8. Sunshine Sometime (Earliest Mix)
Deluxe Edition Box Set: 4 CD/1 DVD box set & download Remastered album, bonus audio CD, remastered Mono album, Thrillington CD, bonus film DVD, 112 page book, 5 prints in vintage style photographic wallet, 8 full size facsimiles of Paul’s original handwritten lyric sheets and mini photographic book of outtakes from the original album cover photo shoot.
Hi-Res: 24bit 96kHz files of the remastered and bonus audio CD, accessed via a download code inserted on a card within the deluxe edition package
Vinyl: 2LP 180gm, gatefold vinyl with download Remastered album, bonus audio disc plus digital download of all 20 tracks
Limited Edition Mono Vinyl: 1LP, Remastered mono album
Digital: RAM will be available for download across a variation of digital configurations including Mastered for iTunes and High Resolution

Written by the McCartneys on their farm in Mull of Kintyre, Scotland, the album was recorded in New York with Denny Seiwell, David Spinozza and Hugh McCracken.
We'll give Paul the last word :  "Ladies and gentlemen, this is an album from a long, long time ago, when the world was different. This is an album that is part of my history - it goes back to the wee hills of Scotland where it was formed. It's an album called 'RAM'. It reminds me of my hippie days and the free attitude with which was created. I hope you’re going to like it, because I do!"

21 Mar 2012

Listen To Nick Cave Duet With Debbie Harry

The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project are set to release their second set of interpretations of unreleased Pierce material, The Journey Is Long, on April 9, including this duet between Nick Cave and Debbie Harry.
They also featured on the first volume We Are Only Riders, released in 2009.
The Journey Is Long will also feature Mick Harvey, Lydia Lunch, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan and Warren Ellis among others.
“The idea was that, these are not our songs, we merely interpret them,” said Pierce's collaborator Cypress Grove, who recorded many of the original sketches of these songs on cassette before Pierce's death in 1996. “This is not a tribute project, which usually consists of third rate re-treads of an artist’s most famous work, but brand new material from beyond the grave. In some cases the artists have had to finish the songs, so there can be no nonsense about this not being as good as the original version, as these are the original versions! It’s a musical collective of artists who have come together to interpret or complete skeletal, unfinished material by Jeffrey. Where possible we have used Jeffrey’s contributions, so he actually appears posthumously on this album."

You Can Preorder The Journey Is Long on CD Here
We Are Only Riders Is Available on CD Here

Listen To Silent Hour/Golden Mile - The New E.P by Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen

Warp is set to release Daniel Rossen's lovely new E.P this week and they've made it available to listen to through Soundcloud, below.
"Whenever possible, I like just keeping the very first impression of an idea the first take of something," says Rossen.
"You very rarely get to do that because the recording quality is below standard. It’s very liberating to just leave it.”

Liked it?
Click Here to Buy Silent Hour / Golden Mile on CD
Or Click Here To Buy It On Vinyl

Listen to J. Mascis Latest Project, Heavy Blanket

J. Mascis outfit Heavy Blanket has an instrumental album due out on May 8 which is described as loud, brutal and psychedelic.
Mascis allegedly formed the band with "Pete Cougar" and "Johnny Pancake" in 1984 while J was a member of Deep Wound.
Their hilarious self mythologising back story can be read here.
A limited edition of 200 records will be available on purple vinyl.
Heavy Blanket:
01 Galloping Toward the Unknown
02 Spit in the Eye
03 Blockheads
04 Corpuscle Through Time
05 Dr Marten’s Blues
06 No Telling No Trails

You Can Preorder Heavy Blanket On CD Here.

Listen Below:

Heavy Blanket - Dr Marten's Blues from Outer Battery Records on Vimeo.

The Beatles Yellow Submarine Prepped For DVD / Blu Ray Release

The Beatles groundbreaking animated psychedelic odyssey Yellow Submarine has been digitally restored and will receive a long overdue DVD / Blu Ray release on May 28.
The original elements have all been individually hand cleaned by Triage Motion Picture Services, meaning this will be the cleanest print we've ever seen of this classic.
The host of extra features will include a Making Of documentary, the original theatrical trailer, an audio commentary from the producers, interview clips, storyboards and a gallery of behind the scenes photos. An essay by John Lasseter - the man responsible for a host of brilliant Pixar movies including Toy Story, The Incredibles and Up - is included in a 16-page booklet.

20 Mar 2012

Bob Dylan's Minneapolis Party Tape Available Soon On CD

Archival specialists The Bob Dylan Archives have another semi official Dylan release due out at the end of next month.
“The Minneapolis Party Tape” follows BDA’s release of the Carnegie Chapter Hall concert.
By May 1961 Bob Dylan had been living in New York and working the Greenwich Village cafés and folk clubs for nearly five months. With the harsh winter now gone, Dylan decided it was time to return north to Hibbing, Minnesota to spend some time with his parents. While en route, Bob stopped off in Minneapolis to visit some of the friends he had made during his time at college there. This would be the first of several visits to Minneapolis and a pattern would soon emerge.
Whenever he returned, Bob would crash in the apartment of Bonnie Jean Beecher, a girl he had dated while in college, and Dylan would thereafter jokingly refer to her apartment as either the Beecher Hotel or Minneapolis Hotel. These forays to Minneapolis enabled Dylan to use a friends tape recorder to capture what progress he had made musically during his time in New York. Eager to demonstrate how much he had learned while living in the Big Apple, he performed on several occasions for his old friends, and the so-called Minnesota Party Tape is the combined result of either two or, more probably, three of these May sessions.
Whilst this tape illustrate how much Dylan had progressed in the four months since he left Minneapolis for New York, his performances still consisted of blues, folk and Guthrie numbers with only the final song, 'Bonnie, Why'd You Cut My Hair'?, being an eccentric Dylan original. As one of the earliest documents of Dylans musicianship however it captures the birth of an icon, and thus provides essential listening for everyone with even a hint of interest in the genesis of Bob Dylan and of popular music more generally.

1. Ramblin Round
2. Death Dont Have No Mercy
3. Its Hard To Be Blind
4. This Train (Is Bound For Glory)
5. Harmonica solo
6. Talking Fish Blues
7. Pastures Of Plenty
8. This Land Is Your Land
9. Two Trains Runnin
10. Wild Mountain Thyme
11. Howdido
12. Car, Car (Riding In My Car)
13. Dont Push Me Down
14. Come See
15. I Want My Milk
16. San Francisco Bay Blues
17. A Long Time A-Growin
18. Devilish Mary
19. Railroad Bill
20. Will The Circle Be Unbroken
21. Man Of Constant Sorrow
22. Pretty Polly
23. Railroad Boy
24. James Alley Blues
25. Bonnie, Why'd You Cut My Hair?

You can preorder it cheap here :

Sub Pop's Record Store Day Releases : Blitzen Trapper, Beach House, Shabazz Palaces

Sub Pop have announced their releases for this year's Record Store Day celebrations :

Blitzen Trapper
“Hey Joe” b/w “Skirts on Fire” 7" single
(Limited-edition of 1,800 on yellow vinyl)
1. Hey Joe
2. Skirts on Fire

Beach House
“Lazuli” b/w “Equal Mind” 7" single
(Limited-edition of 2,400 copies on blue vinyl)
1. Lazuli
2. Equal Mind

Shabazz Palaces
Live at KEXP 12" EP
1. bop hard
2. An echo from the hosts that profess infinitum
3. a mess, the booth that soaks in palacian musk
4. free press and curl

I'm keen on a bit of that Blitzen Trapper myself. Fingers crossed a copy finds it's way over to my little corner of the world.

Flaming Lips Release Full Details For Collaborative Record Store Day LP

The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends is out on Record Store Day, April 21.

The recordings document "a series of unique and experimental sessions," according to a press release, and will be released in a very limited edition and never pressed again. The album comes as a 2xLP on multicolored vinyl, each disc with a unique design.

The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends:
Side 1:
01 2012 (featuring Ke$ha and Biz Markie)
02 Ashes in the Air (featuring Bon Iver)
03 Helping the Retarded to Know God (featuring Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros)
Side 2:
04 Supermoon Made Me Want To Pee (featuring Prefuse 73)
05 Children of the Moon (featuring Tame Impala)
06 That Ain't My Trip (featuring Jim James of My Morning Jacket)
07 You, Man?  Human?  (featuring Nick Cave)
Side 3:
08 I'm Working at NASA On Acid (featuring Lightning Bolt)
09 Do It! (featuring Yoko Ono)
10 Is David Bowie Dying? (featuring Neon Indian)
Side 4:
11 The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (featuring Erykah Badu)
12 Thunder Drops (featuring New Fumes)
13 I Don't Want You to Die (featuring Chris Martin of Coldplay)

19 Mar 2012

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Will Release "Americana" on June 5th

Neil Young has confirmed today that "Americana" will be released on June 5th. Neil's first full album with Crazy Horse since Greendale, and the first with the full line up since Broken Arrow, it will feature heavy reinterpretations of mostly traditional folk tunes.
At the Slamdance Film Festival earlier this year, Young talked about the album. "A very young choir of children plays with Crazy Horse [on the album,]" he said. "They're songs we all know from kindergarten, but Crazy Horse has rearranged them, and they now belong to us."
"What ties these songs together is the fact that while they may represent an America that may no longer exist," says a press release announcing the new album."The emotions and scenarios behind these songs still resonate with what’s going on in the country today with equal, if not greater impact nearly 200 years later. The lyrics reflect the same concerns and are still remarkably meaningful to a society going through economic and cultural upheaval, especially during an election year. They are just as poignant and powerful today as the day they were written."
Young previewed a number of these tracks on a lengthy jam session that was briefly available on his website a few months ago, and may still be doing the rounds online if you look hard enough for it.
The tracklisting for "Americana " will be
"Oh Susannah"
"Tom Dooley"
Gallows Pole
"Get A Job
"Travel On
"High Flyin’ Bird
"She’ll Be Comin ’Round The Mountain"
"This Land Is Your Land
"Wayfarin’ Stranger
"God Save The Queen"

18 Mar 2012

Musical Geniuses Who Should Be Household Names (Part One)

We've all got a few favorite artists who we think should be superstars but no-one else seems to have heard of. Here's part one of the Active Listener's selection of musical geniuses that the masses have yet to discover. More to follow soon.
Got your own selection of musical geniuses that you want the world to know about? Send it through to nford150@gmail.com and we'll see what we can do to publish it here.

Jeff Kelly
The prolific Jeff Kelly's first outfit the Green Pajama's started out with cassette only releases in 1984, and have released over 20 amazingly consistent albums since. Initially lumped in with the Paisley Underground scene, the Green Pajama's were more heavily influenced by the U.K psychedelic scene of the late sixties than their peers and managed to capture the late sixties period flavor far more authentically than anyone else on the scene at the time. They've since progressed through psychedelia to jangle rock to folk rock to country rock on their latest. In the meantime Kelly has also released a number of solo albums in more of a singer songwriter mould which highlight his lyrical songwriting and Tom Petty-ish voice better than the Pajamas material, and as Goblin Market, he also has three albums of more esoteric material verging on acid folk under his belt.
BUY HERE : The Green Pajama's - Complete Book Of Hours, Jeff Kelly - Indiscretion

Glenn Campbell
Glenn Ross Campbell ( not the country singer ) is the Jimi Hendrix of the steel guitar and was highly influential in the transition from garage rock to psychedelia. As a member of the Misunderstood his distorted steel guitar heroics helped set the groundwork for the psychedelic movement in 1966 with material like Children of the Sun and Find A Hidden Door. He then found himself in rock outfit Juicy Lucy who released several excellent hard rock releases, before shifting into country rock. Their recordings of Who Do You Love and Willie the Pimp are definitive to me. More recently he's made an appearance on the Loon's excellent psychedelic garage album Red Dissolving Rays of Light.
BUY HERE : The Misunderstood - Before The Dream Faded, Juicy Lucy - Who Do You Love: The Anthology, The Loons - Red Dissolving Rays Of Light.

Ian Carr
Ian Carr seems to be primarily known as a Miles Davis biographer, but was a very fine trumpet player and arranger in his own right. His work with Saxophonist Don Rendell throughout the sixties accounted for the very finest English jazz of the era, while he established the groundbreaking progressive jazz rock outfit Nucleus in 1969 who continued to push the envelope throughout the seventies. Fans of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew and Tribute To Jack Johnson would do well to investigate.
BUY HERE : The Don Rendell / Ian Carr Quintet - Shades Of Blue/Dusk Fire, Ian Carr & Nucleus - Solar Plexus / Belladonna

Ollie Halsall
Ollie Halsall was the finest guitarist that no-one seems to have heard of. His imaginative, dexterous and fluent guitar runs helped to enliven albums by all sorts of progressive English musos in the late sixties and early seventies. As well as being a member of Patto and Tempest he also featured extensively on albums by Kevin Ayers, and appeared as Leppo in the Rutles : All You Need Is Cash. But it's his amazing guitar work that he's most noted for, check out the solos in Patto's Hold Your Fire and prepare to be blown away.  His work on vibes on Beat The Drum from Hold Your Fire is also exceptional.
BUY HERE : Patto - Hold Your Fire

Robert Harrison
Robert Harrison's band Cotton Mather should have been one of the biggest bands of the nineties. With taut and tuneful Beatlesque rockers, gushing reviews from the English music press and frequent endorsements from Noel Gallagher and later, Spoon's Britt Daniel it's a mystery as to why they never achieved the same level of popularity as say, Matthew Sweet. We'll have to put it down to small labels not able to market it as competitively as their larger competition, because their albums are to all intents and purposes flawless. Harrison's more recent recordings as Future Clouds and Radar are fascinating as well, if not a little more esoteric.
BUY HERE : Cotton Mather - Kontiki, Future Clouds & Radar

16 Mar 2012


There are a lot of questions that I get asked often, so here's the answers to the most common of them.

Q: How do I get my album / e.p / single reviewed on the Active Listener?
A: Mail a copy to The Active Listener, 34 Duppa St, Berhampore 6023, Wellington, New Zealand or e-mail a download code or download link to theactivelistener at hotmail.com. Streaming links will not be reviewed. I only have time to review a fraction of the material that I receive so sending me a promo does not guarantee coverage.

Q: How do I get a track on the Active Listener Sampler?
A: E-mail the intended track to theactivelistener at hotmail.com. We may require a WAV or FLAC format if we choose to use it, but a streaming link is fine firstup. I receive hundreds of tracks a month so again I can not guarantee inclusion, and the decision will be made exclusively by Active Listener staff by criteria of our choosing. Please ensure that you make it clear in your correspondance whether you are submitting for review, sampler or both.

Q: Your reviews are all pretty positive - do you like everything?
A: There's heaps of music out there that's not very good - that's a fact. We only write about the good stuff, which is why all of our reviews are positive.

Q: I want to write for the Active Listener. What do I need to do?
A: E-mail theactivelistener at hotmail.com with a sample of your writing and give me an idea of what sort of thing you want to review. We're all about the new releases and reissues, so we don't want to see reviews of anything that's been out for ages unless it's being freshly reissued. Hit us with ideas for features, interviews etc.
Q: How do I advertise my album / e.p / single on the Active Listener?
A: E-mail theactivelistener at hotmail.com for rates - you can expect between 1000 and 2000 people to see your ad each day. Rates are cheap and trading for a vinyl copy of your album may be a possibility instead of monetary payment.

Q: Where does the money go if I make a donation for a sampler?
A: A lot of it goes towards paying our Bandcamp fees and admin fees. Also, the more donations we receive, the less hours we have to spend doing our day jobs and the more time we can devote to making the Active Listener a better resource for you.

Q: Is a donation for the sampler expected?
A: Hell no, the samplers will always be available for free for anyone to download guilt free. Donations are welcome (and rare) but never expected of you.

Q: Are Active Listener Records label releases available on CD, cassette or vinyl?
A: At this point no. Our budget and geographical location (New Zealand) make it impractical for us to deal in physical media for now. Some of our releases are available in physical formats independently or on other labels however.

Q: What's the difference between Active Listener Records label releases and the sampler?
A: The sampler is a monthly download, which features our pick of the best material reviewed on the Active Listener over the previous month as well as other stuff we've recently become aware of. These will always be available on a name your price basis starting at $0. The label releases are our attempt to highlight and offer further exposure for artists that we love who we feel are underappreciated. The low cost of these downloads is shared between label and artists and enables us to provide you with more music in the future.

Q: What makes you such experts?
A: Nothing. We simply express our enjoyment and enthusiasm for the music we love.

Any other questions are of course always welcome.

Jimmy Page's Lucifer Rising Soundtrack To Be Released After 40 Years In The Vaults.

In the early seventies Jimmy Page recorded a number of pieces at his home studio, the majority of which were intended for Kenneth Anger's film, Lucifer Rising.
The music was never used in the film ( although Page did make a cameo appearance ) so the soundtrack was shelved.
On March 20 Page will release the record Lucifer Rising and Other Sound Tracks exclusively through his website, www.jimmypage.com
An LP edition will be issued on heavyweight vinyl, as well as a special run of numbered copies. The first 93 copies of that set will be autographed by Page.

Watch Bon Iver Cover Anais Mitchell's Coming Down

Bon Iver have stopped off in the Triple J studios during their Australian tour to record a session for Triple J's popular Like A Version series, where popular artists perform cover versions.
The original version of Coming Down can be found on Anais Mitchell's latest album Young Man In America.
Bon Iver's Justin Vernon featured extensively on her previous album Hadestown.

15 Mar 2012

Beak> - Obscure Classics ( Review )

Beak > ( 2009 )

One of Geoff Barrow from Portishead's many side projects, Beak> is an intriguing outfit, and essential listening for those that enjoyed the darker musical furrow plowed by Portishead on their wonderful album Third.
Hard to define, but most commonly described as Krautrock, although whether that's been offered by the band or a media description I'm unsure of, it's true that beak evolves the preoccupation with Krautrock that was evident on Third, but it also manages to run it's influences through an unmistakenly English filter that recalls everyone from Joy Division to Black Sabbath, to produce an often unsettling, but never boring album.
Billy Fuller and Matt 'Team Brick' Williams join Barrow in this three piece, and everything on here was written and recorded over twelve days in the studio, with no overdubs. Clearly those looking for a tightly structured set of songs should look elsewhere, but for those keen for something a little more adventurous, read on.
Opener, Backwell jumps into fizzy life with some pure Neu motorik and creepy but catchy organ work - music from a carnival where you wouldn't turn your back on the clowns.
The Cornubia is probably their calmest moment, with a ghostly chorus of voices accompanying a steady metric drumbeat and slinky Mogwai-esque bassline.

Ham Green sounds a lot like Link Wray's Rumble, only played by Black Sabbath's rhythm section at half speed with a witches coven chanting in the background.
Battery Point crests in on a wave of delicately shimmering guitars and is a beauty that Explosions in the Sky would happily find a home for on one of their albums.

Blagdon Lake is a more lively affair with it's insistent beat and post-punk informed bassline.
Barrow Gurney on the otherhand is a wall of screeching electronic feedback that I'm almost convinced was my modem trying to turn me into Jack Torrance.
Dundry Hill is the creepiest thing here ( perhaps anywhere ) with it's tribal pagan percussion, walls of drones and vocals that sound like someone dangling a microphone down a haunted well.
Ultimately it's Barrow doing exactly what he wants to do, and you get the impression that he doesn't really give a damn if you care for it or not. For those of us that do this is a pretty engrossing listen.
For those who want to hear more they also contributed a cover of Welcome to the Machine to Mojo's Dark Side of the Moon / Wish You Were Here covers album, which sounds like an unearthed Joy Division cover.


14 Mar 2012

Massive Bob Dylan Box Set On The Way?

Back in June 2010 the Tampa Bay Times reported that Didier C. Deutsch was working for Legacy Records ( Sony's Flagship reissue label ) on  a 40 CD Bob Dylan Box Set.
Then early last year Variety reported that "Sony's catalog division, Legacy, has released nine official Dylan bootlegs thus far and is currently developing a 40-CD "superfan" Dylan release featuring a wealth of previously bootlegged studio outtakes."
It seems that the idea has evolved.
Late last week Forbes reported the following : "The word is Columbia Records is preparing the ultimate Bob Dylan box set– a collection of all his albums including his bootleg series. The massive box will be a Dylanographer’s delight, collecting every single track including single tracks like “George Jackson” that never made into onto an album. There will also be a couple of CDs with miscellaneous tracks, so that just about everything you ever heard, had, lost, or wanted is all in one place. The price for this super collection is said to be $300–but there’s an upside. I am told that there will be a code so buyers can download the whole thing for free as well. “It seemed crazy to say here it is, now go upload the whole thing into your computer too,” says a source."
The interesting thing about this is that the Forbes article disappeared almost immediately to be replaced by an article titled Robert Johnson Gets Blues Celebration at the Apollo. 
This article contained only the following line to represent the former article : "Some of the gossip concerns Bob Dylan–and a big project set for the fall. Blues guys love Dylan and are always trying to collect everything he’s done. Stay tuned…"
So it seems that Sony have asked for the story, or at least major parts of it to be removed. Some say the release was meant to still be a secret. Or could they have pulled it because they have other plans for what will actually appear on the box, and that the Forbes report had the wrong idea about it's content ? Whatever the reason, it'll be very interesting to see whether this does surface and what exactly the couple of CDs of miscellaneous tracks will include. That report certainly makes it sound like it'll be previously released non album material, and not the wealth of previously bootlegged studio outtakes that Variety reported about last year.
Stay tuned indeed.

10 Mar 2012

The Eastern - Hope & Wire Review

The Eastern's official press release describes them better than I ever could : 'The Eastern are a string band that roars like a punk band, that swings like a gospel band, that drinks like a country band, that works like a bar band, that hopes like folk singers, and sings love songs like union songs, and writes union songs like love songs, and wants to slow dance and stand on tables, all at the same time.'
They've carved a niche for themselves as New Zealand's premier roots outfit, and they've done it the old fashioned way - through hard work. They tour constantly with 200+ shows a year, and have released three e.ps and now three albums in four years. Their lineage stretches all the way back to the likes of Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston via Springsteen, The Clash, Steve Earle, Billy Bragg and John Prine - outspoken artists who say things that need to be said with eloquence and grace.
Based in Lyttleton, one of the worst hit areas of the Christchurch region during the recent spate of earthquakes here, recent times have been tough for the band, their friends and family.
Their latest album, Hope & Wire was recorded in an abandoned, earthquake damaged house ( since demolished ) and is obviously heavily informed by these events and while the songs are often inspired by tragedy, the overriding message is one of community and hope.
Core duo Adam McGrath and Jess Shanks split songwriting duties with their songs often inspired by chance meetings and astute observation, using small moments to illustrate larger truths.
Musically this is their most varied release to date,  from barnstorming anthems like the opener Gone, to sweet appalachian ballads ( the Letting Go ), to rollicking protests ( Turn It Round ).
Flora Knight's dexterous fiddle accompaniment is an emotive wildcard too, switching from mournful to joyous as the material requires.
If there's any justice in the world this ambitious double album will be the one to break them through to a bigger audience, but one gets the impression that it's not really a priority for them and that they'd rather reach one person who truly takes in what they've got on their minds, than a hundred who listen superficially.

You can buy Hope & Wire from itunes here.

You can also buy the Harbour Union from itunes here. The Harbour Union is a collective of Lyttleton musicians, including the Eastern, who've donated their time, energy and material to this project for free to raise money for those affected by the Christchurch quakes, and to help with the rebuild of Lyttleton.

Look Out For ...The Mixups

Fabulous Glaswegians The Mix Ups have decided to eschew the normal route of album release and release a downloadable single each month.   Check out the sound samples further down the page.
They're great fun, with major sixties influences - think The Coral's early material.


Official Bio: Named after the ‘10p mixups’ you got at school, you just never know what you’re going to get next with Glasgow based band THE MIXUPS.
Rhythm Guitarist and Vocals - Jamie Cameron, Bass - Ryan Tobias, Drums, Vocals - Paul Preston, and Lead Guitar/Keys/Vocals - Jamie Haffey are the young fellas behind the music.
The four young, talented musical-players have been a group since 2009 and progress has been rapid. Festival appearances, a sell out debut E.P tour and national radio spins from Mark Lamarr (radio 2) and Jim Gellatly (radio Scotland) have all added to the ball of hype surrounding THE MIXUPS. Support slots with members of The Bluetones, The La’s and Supergrass have also attracted press coverage.
The band released a single on December 1st and will do so every month after that for a year, available on download from itunes and other online stockists. After taking time out from gigging after their sold out debut E.P tour, which culminated in a fizzling performance at a sold out King Tuts in January, the band have been recording since then and have amassed a wealth of songs and a vibrant new sound.
With a splash of sixties style, a dash of nineties groove and a helping of noughties naughtiness, Britain’s newest hitmakers have arrived.

You can buy digital downloads of two of their tracks at amazon.co.uk by clicking the links below :

Or visit their itunes store here.