If you know Communion records at all, you’ll immediately think folky acoustic types, and that would be fair enough, most of their stuff is like that. You probably wouldn’t think retro soul though. But here’s Michael Kiwanuka on Communion with his sepia-tinged soul songs. In keeping with other Communion music, there’s nothing particualry groundbreaking , it’s just done very well. In Michael’s case, exceptionally well.
You can tell he’s a man whith Marvin, Otis and Stevie records in his collection, and he channels his influences, with his rich, emotive vocals and production from Paul Butler from the Bees, to come up with three exquisite tunes that set him out as a major new talent in the post-Winehouse world. But that’s not all. The slight folk inflections point in the direction of Terry Callier, giving a superbly well-rounded and striking debut which must also have the distinction of being the only soul record that mentions the Isle of Wight in its title. Just don’t let Ronson get his hands on him.
The past week has brought plenty of good news about new albums. For me, receiving press releases for St Vincent, She Keeps Bees and new faves King Post Kitsch has been pretty exciting, but then these were all eclipsed on Tuesday with the news of the new Beirut album Rip Tide, due out on 29 August. Of course we knew something was coming after last Friday’s announcement of the East Harlem/ Goshen single which came out on Monday, but it was good to hear all the same. After playing my new 7 inch last night, I’ve now heard two of the nine tracks on Rip Tide, and they bode well for the rest of the album. Classic Beirut, with slightly less emphasis on the Balkan/Mexican horn orchestras. Four years on from March of the Zapotec / Realpeople Holland it’s time to get excited about Beirut again.
I remember Semifinalists. Back in the heady summer of 2006, I saw them a couple of times, including a performance at the very first End of the Road Festival where I was quietly blown away by their woozy psychadelic pop. A sort of low-budget Flaming Lips, with all the tunes, but no massive props or endless monologues.
They split up back in 2009, with frontman Ferry Gouw pursuing film-making and artwork. The band’s mulit-instrumentalist Chris Steele-Nicholson has also dabbled in film-making, but now he’s unleashing his new project Oh Minnows, which pretty much picks up from where Semifinalists left off. He’s employed 80s synths and effects boxes to create a lovely warm brand of electronic music, which even (whisper it) borders on the anthemic.
The first track available from the album is this one - You’ll Never Know Us, and the full-length record follows on the excellent Young and Lost Club later in the year.
The Miserable Rich’s second album Of Flight and Fury sort of passed me by last year while I was looking elsewhere, but now it’s time for me to get excited about their third album. And this time they’re going cinematic. As if their previous work didn’t have a suave sweep to it, 2011 sees James de Malplaquet and his merry men go all John Barry on our asses. That’s their intention anyway, if the story behind new song ‘Anything’s Possible’ is anything to go by. It’s a tale of late nights spent absorbing the great man’s work along with plenty of booze, in the aftermath of his death last year, just when the band were recording their album.
It seems to have worked for them. They’re as stirring as ever, this time aided by a new addition to their musical spectrum - drums, which are provided by David ‘Badlace’ Schlechtriemen from Driver Drive Faster. All of this intrigues and excites for their new album, due out later in the year, I think.
Catch them live on 18 July at The Musician, Leicester or 19 July at Band On The Wall, Manchester.
Here’s one I missed at the tail end of last year. Phosphorescent sneaked out a digital-only live EP, with a few tunes from their touring of last year’s awesome Here’s To Taking it Easy album, as well as this Leonard Cohen cover. It’s worth posting not just becasue it’s great and Matthew Houck makes it sound like one of his own songs, but also because it neatly ties in with Phosphorescent’s short UK tour, which started last night in Bristol. If you’ve not already seen their all-country-rockin’ live show, get down to one of these venues and treat yourself.
31 May Manchester, Deaf Institute
2 June Dublin, The Workman’s Club
3 June Glasgow, Stereo
4 June Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
5 June Norwich, The Arts Centre
7 June London, Heaven
About a year ago, I interviewed Kev Jones, one of the men behind Communion music. One of the things he enthused about that day was the week-long run of gigs that he was going to be putting on at the now-defunct Flowerpot venue in Kentish Town. It wasn’t meant to be just a few nights with bands playing, there were plans to record the performances and eventually produce a compilation to mark the event. It’s taken a while, but it’s finally released next week. In the time in between, Communion certainly hasn’t been idle. They’ve continued to release records by the artists on their roster and promote gigs across Britain and beyond. The Communion brand is being quite firmly established, and now that they’ve got backing from the might of Universal, things look like they might get a whole lot bigger.
So it’s a good time to be finally releasing The Flowerpot Sessions. Over two CDs, there’s a huge variety of songs and collaborations from the people who took part in the original gigs, a superb testament not only to the quality of the artists involved and how good the gigs were, but also to Kev’s vision in putting the whole thing together in the first place. And not forgetting a lasting final tribute tribute to what was a fantastic little London venue. It’ll be missed, but its legacy remains.
And not content with that, Communion are putting on Bushstock, a mini-festival next weekend in Shepherds Bush, taking over four venues with a whole bunch of these artists and plenty others. It’s a cracking line-up; check it out here. No news of a compliation coming out of this one though.
The following tracks aren’t on the album but they are by some of the Communion artists featured on the compilation. Enjoy.
Your first impression of Lau may be of pretty traditional folk music, but they’re an adventurous bunch who are keen to explore the boundaries of their music. After their last full album Arc Light in 2009, they’ve embarked on a project to record three EPs with different people, showcasing different influences of their sound. The first, recorded with Karine Polwart came out last year and is now sold out. The next is the Ghosts EP, this excellent collaboration with Adem, who may be known for his own folky solo work, but who also dabbles in electronic beats alongside The Pictish Trail in Silver Columns (not forgetting his previous incarnation as Fridge, with Kieran Hebden).
The results are a wonderfully mesmerising seven tracks, born out of time spent playing together in Adem’s Hackney studio. A lot of it sounds improvised, the sound of people just enjoying seeing where their musical inclinations take them (let’s not use the word ‘jam’ please). It’s not what you might immediately expect the sound of a collaboration between these two sets of artists to produce, and it’s greater than (or at least different to) the sum of their parts. Who would have thought that Lau may end up sounding like something closer to Sunburned Hand of the Man? Happily marooned amidst all this freeform stuff, is the title track, almost a proper folk song sung by Kris Drever. But the pick of the bunch is ‘Imporsa’, which almost becomes a tribal drumming frenzy across its eight minutes. So it’s no surprise then that this is the tune that Adem has chosen to remix with his Silver Columns hat on. It’s another triumph.
So there’s been plenty of internet chat about how the new Horrors song sounds like Simple Minds. There’s a lot of truth in this, and for the record I really like it. I’d never have imagined saying that about a Horrors tune, but there you go. Now if only their new album could end up sounding like THIS.
And of course this is just an excuse to post the amazing Nuam Gabo remix of the same Simple Minds tune.
It’s always worth sitting up and paying attention to anything new coming out on Song, By Toad Records, and this is no exception - especially since it’s been their first release in what seems like ages. So we have Glasgow-based King Post Kitsch who have just released their debut EP Don’t Touch My Fucking Honeytone, and it’s ace. The title of the title track bears no relation to the song itself, which is about… well, I don’t really know but it doesn’t matter - all you need to know it’s a bloody good rock and roll racket. You can find that out easily enough below. There are three more of these songs on the EP. It’s on lovely white 7 inch vinyl. And of course it comes with the Song, By Toad mark of quality. Oh, and the title is even more amusing if you try saying it loudly in differnt accents, say Cockney and Glasweigan. All good reasons for checking out, and buying.
Oh and by the way, in case you were wondering, apparently the Honeytone is the Danelectro Honeytime, a tiny guitar amp beloved by buskers. Or something.