Stars, DJ Kub and a little more from before...

Happy New Year to one and all. I'm way late with this post.

There are a number of reason for this, from sheer laziness to the genuinely distracting mayhem leading up to Christmas – not least of which, includes Christmas parties (their inevitable fallout and not so inevitable complications), companies going through strange, exciting and disruptive times and collecting a fantastic Christmas present of a festive throat infection from one of my ever coughing nieces and nephews.

On the musical front I have been listening to the Eisley album “Combinations”, Band of Horses' “Cease to Begin”, Interpol's “Our Love to Admire” and a two part mix CD by friend and DJ, Dave – I'll go into detail on the last of these later on.

My listening list has also included Canadian act Stars. This Montreal band is playing Ireland in late January including Galway, Cork and Dublin as part of their tour for “In Our Bedroom After The War”.

Poppy jangletunes like Take me to the Riot remind me of 90s England, bands like Inspiral Carpets and Catherine Wheel. The vocals on My Favourite Book really bring me back to when Morcheeba were all over the airwaves a few years back and Bitches in Tokyo is the best song name I've heard in years, the track itself having a cool surf punk fade out. The mixture of male and female vocals across different tracks is appealing giving Stars a very broad base for music fans across the spectrum to clamber on to. Midnight Coward was my “first listen favourite”; The Beautiful South?

DJ Kub - Tarmac Soul (1A)

The two part mix CD "Tarmac Soul" by digital DJ, DJ Kub, that I want to mention, hails from his road trip across the United States last year. It's an experience I've never had, driving a vast distance, picking up and listening to music of all types and genres as you go along - sounds fantastic.

It would be tedious (not to mention time consuming) to go through the CD track by track commenting on everything that comes along, so I'll just talk about disc A and mention a track or two that caught my attention and suggest that you go to DJ Kub's own blog linked above and at the top of this post to check them out for yourself. You can listen to it directly here.

The first two tracks that caught my attention are an old favourite, Changes by Sugar and a track that I wasn't familiar with, She Brakes for Rainbows by The B-52s. Flowing these two tracks together is freaky, really really really freaky - it works but it shouldn't and it works but it still shouldn't!! Gorgeous little song.

Of course it's rare that every track combination on a mix is going to appeal to everyone and this CD is no different, there are a few songs that I'm not too keen on and I'm sure that'll be the same for you. Thanks to the age of the digital player we can mix and match so if you don't like a track, just drop it from the mix, perhaps replacing it with something else to create your own Tarmac Soul mashup (The Cramps have never done it for me).

Other high points are Big City by Shirley Horn and Roustabout, Elvis.. Big City is one of those tracks that is great up loud with low light - and I can just picture driving along a wide warm road at dusk, in a ridiculously oversized car with the top down and this track blasting out. I'm going say nothing about Roustabout - it's one of my favourite songs of all time.

I think tracks 14 and 15 are in the wrong order - perhaps it's just a personal preference thing but Swimming Places is quite a jolt after Roustabout - maybe that's what Kub intended?
All in all I've really enjoyed this mix and I'm going to be listening to some of Kub's earlier mixes when I'm travelling to the UK later in the month.

I am however going to end on a complaint - Sinatra's too obvious to close with!¬) .. yeah ok, he makes up for it by opening the second CD with Aldo Nova's Fantasy.. I felt the need to put on yellow skin tight leather trousers to listen to it. :D :D .. and following it with Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Cheated Hearts.. argh what a f**king deadly song.. I love it!


Now that I've had a chance to absorb it properly, "Combinations" isn't quite as alternative as I had originally expected (hoped?) having heard the track Many Funerals that I mentioned in a previous blog entry but it doesn't detract from what is a very full album. Although I have found that many of the songs have quirky, less appealing sections, the anthemic choruses with Abba and REM influenced harmonies in the right places, save just about all of these. The result is an album that is a repeat listener and definitely a grower. The powerful vocals of all the singers really contribute to this, cutting through cheesey melodies leaving memorable tunes.

Band of Horses'Cease to Begin” is just bloody excellent – from Is There a Ghost that I mentioned after seeing the great live version on Jools Holland's Later, to No One's Gonna Love You which I found myself singing (lyrics and all) after just one listen.

These guys shift from country feedback to love ballad and on to aggressive indie with the same kind of confidence as the Kings of Leon – there's something more real and less cock-sure about it – that's probably a ropey explanation of what could simply be due to the lighter, more haunting vocal style and the use of buckets of reverb all over the shop in the mix.

I'll come back to “Our Love to Admire” by Interpol in a later blog, I haven't listened to it enough to form an opinion yet. The fact that it's challenging me is usually a good start - I'll probably have a natter about the second CD in Tarmac Soul - if Dave's still talking to me of course. You can find more from DJ Kub on his own blog: -

Best wishes all - may the new year bring wonderful music and wild exciting things for everyone. As for me, I'm going to be getting my car a New Year's present in the form of a bigger engine and putting as much energy into making music as is humanly (or otherwise) possible.



Popular Posts