Tag Archives: Underworld

Top tracks of 2016 #3 – Radiohead, David Bowie & Underworld(again)

Some music becomes irrevocably linked to the year or the events it accompanied –  Ghost Town, Shipbuilding, What’s Going On, Ball Of Confusion, even Nessun Dorma. We’ve questioned on this blog before where all the political pop has gone, but  ‘Burn The Witch’ by Radiohead really is 2016 in four minutes. The video in particular perfectly captures that chilling moment (at exactly 3 minutes in) when you realise that the country you live in has gone completely and irrevocably insane  That guy is me.

Apparently Radiohead did not get permission for this obvious Trumpton homage, presumably on the grounds that it would have been denied, given it fuses cosy childhood nostalgia with The Wickerman to stunning effect.

Musically it’s one of the best things Radiohead have ever done, the edgy strings accompanying subtle lyrics –  presumably written before this car crash of a year – perfectly anticipating the  ‘low flying panic attack’ that has been 2016.

Abandon all reason
Avoid all eye contact
Do not react
Shoot the messengers

This is a low flying panic attack
Sing the song of sixpence that goes:

Burn the witch
We know where you live

Sure, as Roy has pointed out the album could not follow up on the promise of the single, but really how could it? There is also a great live version posted by Roy as his number 5 pick here.

Talking of Roy, his number 2 is below along with Andy’s.

 

Top tracks of 2016 #6 – Underworld, P J Harvey & Black Mountain

My second British synth duo in a row.

My first ever music post on this site, when we started doing these lists online in 2012, was Underworld, who were at #20 in my Festive Twenty with their ‘Caliban’s Dream’ from the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Four year’s on it’s great to have a new album, ‘Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future’. This is ‘If Rah’, performed on Jools Holland.

I have seen a couple of live Underworld sets on TV this year – 6 Music Festival & Glastonbury and it’s strange how mesmeric a couple of fifty something blokes and a keyboard can be…

The Best of 2016 So Far

As seems to have become traditional – well Andy reminded me last week, here are my favourite tracks of the year so far. Some may make it into my end of year list, some may fall by the wayside.  A strong start I would say, with an interesting mix of returning long distance runners, plus some new (to me) artists.

To kick off, here’s  the first track on Underworld’s ‘Barbara Barbara, We Have A Shining Future’. It’s not a ‘return to form’ as in my view they have never lost form. It’s been quite a career, encompassing ‘Born Slippy’ the rave generation’s Bohemian Rhapsody and providing the music for the Olympic Opening Ceremony, in which visuals and music combined to win over even the most cynical of non-patriotic hearts.  They claim to have had a blast recording this album and this video seems to reflect that.

 

The video for Daughter’s ‘How’ seems to reflect the growing trend for artists not to appear in their own videos, but instead to commission mini indie movies – see also Elbow and a whole album from Suede.  Yet another song on this blog with a Slowdive influence, but I can also hear shades of The Sundays as well.

 

Mogwai’s ‘Ether’ takes the shimmering soundscapes up a notch – this is truly lovely, slowly building from a start that is, well, ethereal, into an anthemic instrumental. That reminds me of something on my ‘to do’ list for this blog – a list of recommended instrumental tracks.  Stay tuned.

 

The Mystery Jet’s latest album, ‘The Curve Of The Earth’ is excellent and they remain very hard to categorise, which I like but I do fear that they are this decade’s Cooper Temple Clause – brilliant but somehow beaming in from a parallel universe and never truly acknowledged. This is the second single.

 

Here is David Bowie’s Lazarus just because it is simply brilliant. Hard to watch in hindsight but captivating nonetheless. Dark Star is an incredible album for an artist to leave as a parting gift.

 

Talking of brilliant, Suede have recorded possibly the greatest rock album of this decade. I saw them perform ‘Night Thoughts’ all the way through behind a cinema screen showing the related film, which packs the emotional punch of the first episode of Broadchurch. This track has a jaunty feel to it, but in the context of the album as a whole takes on a completely different meaning. If you haven’t already, then listen to this album now. Go on, stop reading this blog and do it now.

 

Possibly the best video on this post is Polica’s ‘Wedding’.  It reminds me of a couple of longform Public Enemy Videos I got back in the 90s which mixed the band with agitprop footage and vignettes.   Originally I assumed that the singer uses  another language or a Cocteau Twins made up one, but then an actual word of English floats through. If you don’t believe me here are the lyrics. Great track nonetheless:

 

Also no strangers to the world of agitprop, Primal Scream’s latest album is their most pop-orientated yet, reaching almost Beloved levels of blissed out lyrics and chorus. It’s apparently influenced by Abba, which is no bad thing. The first single is a duet with Sky Ferreira, who in a sign of my advancing years ( or lack of exposure to Radio 1) I have to admit I had to google. A great pop single to add to the dozens already in their back catalogue.

 

However when it comes to pop, when you boil it down to its purest form you are left with the Pet Shop Boys. From the upcoming album ‘Super’, this is ‘Pop Kids’ A lyric video is all we have at the moment, but t’s not a bad one and the lyrics are always interesting anyway. Since Kraftwerk’s residency in the Tate Turbine hall, their influence on their disciples has become even more overt – the first few breathy bars of synthesiser in this are of course Trans Europe Express:

 

I really lost interest in Radiohead a few year’s back, so the excitement around an imminent new album has not really hit this blog yet, but I do really like this – Thom Yorke guesting on a track by Mark Pritchard. On the radio this morning someone described this as a Number One hit from a different planet. It has made me more interested in what Radiohead may have in store this year.

 

I don’t know much about DIIV, but do really like this track called ‘Under The Sun’.  Always a sucker for a driving bass riff. Reminds me a bit of mid period Cure.

 

When I first heard White Denim’s Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah) on the radio a few weeks, I assumed it was some lost gem from 68-72 that I had somehow missed. Perhaps a support act for early Fleetwood Mac? But no, these are a bona fide current band from Austin, Texas.  For some reason this also reminds me of the Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion. Remember them?

 

..and I think that’s it. No doubt something else will come to mind the minute I publish the ‘publish’ button, but do feel free to add anything you think I have embarrassingly overlooked!

Happy Easter to one and all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012 – Number 20: Caliban’s Dream

There are just twenty days left in 2012, so here are the 20 singles of the year from my point of view, running down to the number one on New Years Eve.

At number 20 I have gone for Caliban’s Dream, from Underworld’s incredible music for the Olympic Ceremony, the music used for the lighting of the Olympic Flame. Featuring Alex Trimble from Two Door Cinema Club, it stays just the right side of cheesy, no small feat given it features a children’s choir la-la-ing away. It floats along blissfully and capped a perfect opening ceremony. Indeed they really should have finished the evening there….

I could write for quite a while eulogising Underworld, but check out 2010’s Barking album as a great start point.