Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea – Sloppy Sevens Vol. 1

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I recorded this on Friday and was meant to post it last night, but I got trapped by the snow and spent a freezing night on a non-moving train.

After a day of drive clearing, snowman making and afternoon napping I’ve finally found a moment to post this all-new podcast made up entirely of records from my singles collection. It’s the same old unlistenable dirges, just in shorter form!

Features a guest appearance from Mrs Panther and her car SatNav – it took me ages to remember what that word was in English, that’s the problem when new words come into use when I’m out of the country…hmm….I’m already rambling and you haven’t even pressed play yet…Enjoy!


Panthersan’s Best Albums of 2013 No. 5 – 1

Ahh…sod it, I was going to leave the second half until tomorrow (and build up the suspense!), but I’ve just cracked open my third beer and I don’t have to work tomorrow. So, here we go!

5. Stara Rzeka – Cień chmury nad ukrytym polem

This band from Poland produce a seemingly impossible mix of acoustic folk, Krautrock rhythms, snarling black metal and space jam drone that can only be described as astonishing.
I found out about them after reading an interview with the band and was instantly captivated and blown away in equal measures. They manage to weave the disparate elements of their sound so seamlessly into one another that they can subtly change from gentle folk to roaring lo-fi black metal without anyone noticing. This album was one of those rare pleasures for me this year: a band and album that I knew nothing about taking me completely by surprise. Just don’t ask me to pronounce that album title!

Listen to it in it’s entirety here and support independent musicians for a mere 5 Euros if you like what you hear.

Here’s the opening track which features pretty much the whole spectrum of their sound:

4. Robedoor – Primal Sphere

That fact that supreme drone merchants Robedoor are still producing quality albums 20-odd releases over a plethora of LPs, split CDs, cassettes and CDRs 8 or 9 years into their career is a feat in itself.
This record (limited edition vinyl of 400 copies – download code included!) is a welcome return to their original cavernous drone sound, but is shot through with enough memorable motifs to make it accessible without compromising their sound. I’ve got most of their vinyl releases (about 8 or 9 LPs) and this is definitely up there with the best of them!

Somewhat inevitably, you can hear the whole thing here. This is the opening track:

3. David Bowie – The Next Day

I’ve mentioned a few times on the ‘Spill over the last couple of years that I’d been (belatedly) getting into Bowie in a big way, so, like everyone else on the planet, I was pretty excited when he dropped “Where are we Now” back in January.
I didn’t hold out much hope for the album though and held off buying a copy until last month. How could I have doubted the great man?!! The Next Day is simply a great great rock record. There are maybe one or two superfluous tracks, but every other tune, from the rocking opening title track to the unsettling closer “Heat” is a stone cold Bowie classic that stands up to any of his previous tunes and work as simply great tracks in their own right.

2. Savages – Silence Yourself

THE WOLRD USED TO BE SILENT
NOW IT HAS TOO MANY VOICES
AND THE NOISE IS A CONSTANT DISTRACTION
THEY MULTIPLY, INTENSIFY
THEY WILL DIVERT YOUR ATTENTION TO WHAT’S CONVENIENT
AND FORGET TO TELL YOU ABOUT YOURSELF
WE LIVE IN AN AGE OF MANY STIMULATIONS
IF YOU ARE FOCUSED YOU ARE HARDER TO REACH
IF YOU ARE DISTRACTED YOU ARE AVAILABLE
YOU ARE DISTRACTED
YOU ARE AVAILABLE
YOU WANT FLATTERY
ALWAYS LOOKING TO WHERE IT’S AT
YOU WANT TO TAKE PART IN EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING TO BE A PART OF YOU
YOUR HEAD IS SPINNING FAST AT THE END OF YOUR SPINE UNTIL YOU HAVE NO FACE AT ALL
AND YET
IF THE WORLD WOULD SHUT UP
EVEN FOR A WHILE
PERHAPS
WE WOULD START HEARING THE DISTANT RHYTHM OF AN ANGRY YOUNG TUNE – AND RECOMPOSE OURSELVES
PERHAPS
HAVING DECONSTRUCTED EVERYTHING
WE SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT PUTTING EVERYTHING BACK TOGETHER
SILENCE YOURSELF

It’s high-minded statements of intent like this that made me fall completely in love with Savages this year. The look, the sound, the lyrics, the attitude: Savages made me feel like a teenage music fan and buy the NME, put a poster up on my wall with blu-tack, get a page boy haircut and start a fanzine. Come on sheeple, put down your smartphones, shut down your twitter account, take a step back and appreciate the moment for what it is – silence yourselves. Music fans of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your wi-fi connections!

1. Watain – The Wild Hunt

Over their previous four albums Swedish black metallers Watain have quietly been becoming the best band in metal, and big favourites in the Panther household…well, not in the household, I usually have to listen after everyone else has gone to bed! However, with their fifth record The Wild Hunt, they may well have just catapulted themselves into the stratosphere. The Wild Hunt is nothing short of a masterpiece. It has all of the elements of underground and authentic black metal that they have built their reputation on, but adds an extra element of accessibility via the album centrepiece and crossover track “They Rode On”, which sounds a lot like mid-period Metallica and could have been the lead track on their Black album. If mbv was the album I played to lull Mrs Panther and wee Nichika to sleep, this is the album I put on after they had gone to bed and I was left alone with nothing more than a cold beer and my own thoughts. Merry Christmas and infernal hails one and all!

Panthersan’s Best Albums of 2013 No. 10 – 6

OK, here we go, here’s my Top Ten of the year, definitely in this order and no other!

10. Xander Harris – The New Dark Age of Love

Synthmeister and celebrity ‘Spill visitor Xander Harris is back with an all-new second album. Gone (well, not completely) are the Jean Michel Jarre-isms of the first album, replaced by a darker, more downbeat and foreboding edge. This only makes it that much more to my tastes and a great progression from an already outstanding debut.

9. The Julie Ruin – Run Fast

Kathleen Hanna is finally back after a long hiatus (she was diagnosed with Lyme disease) and this album did not disappoint (me, at least!). It doesn’t sound much like her lo-fi solo album as Julie Ruin (no ‘The’!) which I absolutely love, but it does sound like a perfect amalgam of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. Shouty bits, bleepy bits, tonnes of catchy bits and the odd emotional sucker punch. Welcome back Kathleen!

Here’s one of the emotional sucker punch tracks:

8. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

I have to admit that I was slightly underwhelmed when I ran back from the record shop and first dropped the needle on the new BOC. There was no obvious radio friendly unit shifter and not too much to grab hold of. But after giving it a few spins the subtle textures and insistent rhythms managed to burrow their way into my head and I ended up loving it and think it might be their best since “Music Has….”. Albums that need a few listens to appreciate end up being the keepers and I think this might be one of them.

7. My Bloody Valentine – mbv

Due to the fact that I only bought (and heard for the first time) “Loveless” about two years ago ( I think it was after a discussion on here) I came to mbv unencumbered by the misplaced sense of greatness that nostalgia has given it. Don’t get me wrong, I like “Loveless”, I just don’t think it’s that amazing. In fact, I much much prefer mbv, it has the fuzziness of their previous stuff but with added songwriting focus and forward-looking experimentalism to boot. I listened to this album A LOT this year, usually late at night. In three words: better than “Loveless”! ……Oi, who just shouted ‘Judas’ ??!!

6. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap

I know this has become the go-to album for white hipster bloggers this year and I don’t usually listen to much hip-hop, but I downloaded this the week it came out because….well, because it was free (!) and have just found myself coming back to it again and again (and again!) – usually whilst doing the washing up! The combination of clever wordplay, the usual hip-hop hyperbole, goofy raps, everyday vignettes and emotional vulnerability reminds me a bit of the first couple of Eminen albums, but instead of Marshall Mathers’ misanthropy, Chance comes across more as a victim of circumstance, a scared kid (I think he has only just turned 21) stuck in a place where “it’s easier to find a gun than it is to find a fucking parking spot”, using rap to get out (of it). I think I’m rambling now, OK…I just like it a lot!
Download it free and see for yourself!

Suna No Onna

The gems that Youtube throws up never fail to amaze me.

‘Suna No Onna” (or “The Woman in the Dunes” in English) is my number one favourite Japanese film (and an excellent book too) that tells the story of a weekend insect collector on a day trip from Tokyo who gets trapped in the sandscape of a mysterious Japanese town.
The sand itself almost becomes a character and the multilayered metaphors are ripe for interpretation/misinterpretation. The flawless directing is topped off with a stunning soundtrack and amazing performances all round.
I read that it made quite an international impact when it was first released in 1968 and if anyone hasn’t seen it and has a spare couple of hours it is well worth watching/reading.

*It’s not quite as erm…erotic as the front still implies, although there is a bit of that in it!

The Word

Here’s a quick post for Amylee.

The Word was an anarchic late night post-pub live TV show in the early 90s that had interviews, games, members of the public doing outrageous shit and – for me, the main point – live music.

It was condescendingly dubbed ‘yoof’ TV at the time and derided by the media as childish and a degradation of culture. The critics were probably media people in their late 20s/early 30s that hated being made to look old by a programme that was truly outrageous (one memorable slot had people drinking salt water, puking in a cup and then immediately drinking their own puke!) and anarchic and made the custard pie throwing of 80s entertainment look quaint in comparison. They probably hated all the noisy music too!

Here are a few performances that all had a profound impact on at least one meek and mild suburbun boy.

Rage Against the Machine – Killing In The Name
Loads of swearing and a stage invasion – what’s not to like?!

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Forgotten 90s – #1 Tiger

Tiger

I was listening to Tiger’s excellent debut LP from 1996 “We are Puppets” yesterday and thinking what a shame it was that they have pretty much been completely forgotten. So, I came up with an idea for a mini-series of posts on forgotten 90s bands, starting with Tiger of course!

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Musical Persuasion

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Malcolm Maclaren famously discovered Johnny Rotten walking up the Kings Road wearing a Pink Floyd t-shirt that he had added the legend “I hate” to in marker pen. Well, Mr. Rotten may be prone to bouts of twattishness these days, but when it comes to Pink Floyd (edit: I just mistyped it as “Punk Floyd” – oh the irony!), I couldn’t agree more.

I just can’t stand them! I’m not quite sure why, I think it’s a combination of being overblown and pompous but boring at the same time. I know it’s not regarded as their best (and it might not work without the film), but I would go as far to say that “The Wall” is the worst album I’ve ever heard! It’s the only record I’ve ever given away.

I know, I know, that’s a lot of negativity, for which I apologise. So here’s my challenge: what Pink Floyd track would you recommend to persuade me of their greatness? Or at least make me hate them a little bit less.

*Feel free to nominate your own Achilles heel’s to be converted to

Best of the Best

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I’ve been on my sickbed today (don’t worry, nothing serious, just a bit fluey) so I dragged the portable turntable into the living room and have been listening to a few things I haven’t listened to in a while.

I was just taking in a Fatcat Records compilation double album (“Across Uneven Terrain – 1997-1999″) and thinking how great it was (erm…if you like experimental minimalist electronica) and then I realised just how few COMPILATION albums I own. It’s probably less than ten and I only listen to a few of them regularly. I suppose it’s all linked with my fear of ‘shuffle’ and the pleasure I get from the arc of a well put together album, but I can’t help thinking that I’m missing out on something.

Shane mentioned the 50 Years of African Independence mammoth comp. recently, which I’ve been delving into with what I can find online, and I know there are the classics like Nuggets and C86 (which Blimpy Spilled a couple of years ago), but would love some more recommendations for decent comps to get my teeth into.

*NOT ‘Greatest Hits’ albums and not self-compiled mixtapes (although they usually are the best!).

Spill Challenge #whatever – Of Mice and Men

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Phew…. this was far more difficult than it had any right to be! I definitely over-thought everything and seemed to have ended up with a totally different list than I had planned.

I envisioned a cool, eclectic, hop, skip and jump through my record collection, touching down on a variety of genres from a range of eras. But when I started pulling records off the shelf, I got all distracted and sidetracked and my 11 track list turned into a 30 track one, with a heavy bias towards abrasive breakcore!
Out went the jazz, Finnish electronica and Nigerian psychedelic organ and in came the powerpop and Lebanese bozok! None of my usual roll-call of favourites made it either. No Liars. No Clinic. No Nirvana. No Anaal Nathrakh. No Not Not Fun, No…..oh you get the idea. I think it’s more of a mixtape than 11 stand alone tracks, but anyway, here’s what I ended up with…Oh…and I decided to go chronological, no one has done that yet have they?!

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…and I think to myself….

Do you ever get those WTF moments that just make you stop for a second and marvel at the diverse and interconnected world we are lucky enough to live in?

Don’t you just love living in a world where a 7 year old kid in Finland can start recording music on his dad’s iPhone in “Finnish, English and Gibberish”, get it released on CD, played on the radio by a DJ in New York, whose show is downloaded by an Englishman in Japan, who then Spills it to the world on a UK-based website to listen to on their computers or generic MP3 devices wherever they may be?!

Sounds a bit like Boards of Canada to me….

Panthersan’s Best… Indie Album of 2012

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Liars – “WIXIW”

My adoration for NYC indie-art-pop weirdos Liars is well documented on the ‘Spill, so I won’t go over it again, but I was a little worried when I heard they had a new album coming out. Everything they release is pretty much head and shoulders above the competition (their last LP “Sisterworld” was my #1 album of 2010) – not that a unique band like Liars really have any contemporaries, the only comparable band I can think of that have evolved and gone off on tangents from album to album, keeping their fans guessing whilst staying true to themselves are the ever-wonderful Japanther – erm…where was I? Oh yes, I was worried because the last two records, while never less than great, were edging closer and closer to making Liars a conventional guitar indie-rock band, which is a cardinal sin in Liarsworld.

I was relieved then when I dropped the needle on “WIXIW” (pronounced ‘wish you’ apparently) and found that they had chucked out their guitars and brought in a darkly pulsating keyboard sound to produce an incredible and thoughtful late-night introspective, (but not too introspective, it’s basically an electronica album after all!) album that harks back to their finest hour, 2005′s “Drums Not Dead”.

“WIXIW” starts slowly and thoughtfully, before deep bass beats kick in for track 2 and the juxtaposition between the electronic beats and the fragile sounding voice and lyrics gives it an emotional punch lacking from the last couple of records. I’m sure it will get compared to “KId A” or something like that, that’s not a bad thing, but it is not quite accurate and would detract from what makes Liars such a unique and special band.

Here’s that lovely introduction track:


Panthersan’s Best… Noise Album of 2012

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Lightning Bolt – “Oblivion Hunter”

A new album from everyone’s favourite noise-rock art terrorists, but not new material as such. The 7 tracks on “Oblivion Hunter” were actually recorded between the previous two albums, but they are just releasing them now.

This might suggest that it is a cash-in exercise in off-cuts that didn’t make the grade for the last albums, but instead the tracks here give the impression that the Brians were jamming, experimenting and trying out new ideas, which makes it a more playful and diverse record then either of the last two proper albums.

From the opening salvo of classic LB “King Candy”, to the (gasp!) quietly contemplative “The Soft Spoken Spectre” to the epic 13 minute wig-out of “World Wobbly Wide” the whole thing is over in under 40 minutes and what should have been a mere stop-gap fan pleaser turns out to be one of their best yet.

Here’s my favourite track:


Panthersan’s Best…Post-Rock Album of 2012

GYBE

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Allelujah! Don’t Bend Ascend!”

Unbelievably, it’s been 10 long years since their last album and the world has been a poorer place without them. I had no idea the album was even out when I stumbled across it whilst window record shopping in my lunch break. As I mentioned in the ‘Festive 2s comments, I have been a fan of Godspeed… since the first LP came out in 1997 and very much treasure my lovely silkscreened embossed vinyl with multiple inserts and crushed coin and have eagerly bought each album since. So I was more than a little excited to unexpectedly get a new album, and the wait was well worth it.

“Allelujah!…” consists of two long 20 minute tracks and two short drone numbers (on the vinyl version these are on an LP and 7″ respectively). The long ones are classic Godspeed… complex instrumental post rock with the drama ratcheting up as the music builds and builds, with “Mladic” (my number 2 pick of the year) as possibly the best track of their career – they have been playing it live for a long long time, so they had a lot of opportunity to perfect it before they finally committing it to wax this year. The short droney tracks work as a perfect counterpoint to the epic ones and point to a possible interesting new direction for more inward looking music for their next album.


Panthersan’s Best….Drone (Dub) Album of 2012

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Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras meet the Congos – “Icon Give Thank”

OK, this is not really drone at all, it’s basically a Jamaican dub album with weird sounds, but I had to call it something and it wouldn’t be the end of the year on the ‘Spill without a bit of Sun Araw.

This time he has teamed up with M. Geddes Gengras (Robedoor member and former tweaker for all-time Panther favourites Pocahaunted) and travelled to Jamaica to collaborate with veteran Dub legends the Congos.

The results are pretty much the perfect mix of NNF style minimal dronescapes and Jah-praising Dub, with Sun Araw and Gengras’ production giving the Congos’ words and vocals the space (in all connotations of the word) to expand, breathe, transcend and transpose the listener to a higher plane! Jah!

I previewed one track from the album on a podcast (on the day I bought it!), so here’s a different one, it has a much heavier Sun Araw/Gengras vibe than other more straight up Dub tracks on the album:


Panthersan’s Best……..Metal Album of 2012

Due to financial constraints, lack of time and all the excitement of the build up and aftermath of new fatherhood, I haven’t bought enough albums to do a proper Top Ten this year. To get around this, I thought I’d choose 5 albums from arbitrarily chosen genres and present them as my favourite representative of that genre for the year.

Let’s kick off with my favourite metal album of 2012.

Dragged Into Sunlight – “Widowmaker”

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Fighting off stiff competition from veteran grindcore types Pig Destroyer’s excellently brutal “Bookburner”, “Widowmaker” is a stunningly ambitious album that takes in post rock, doom, sludge, death metal and lashings and lashings of lovely, nasty black metal, that just about blew my mind the first time I heard it. Dragged Into Sunlight have been going a few years now and they’ve managed to maintain their mystery and menace (all band photos feature the band wearing sinister black balaclavas and they only go by their first initials) without descending into a cliche.

“Widowmaker” is split into three parts and the first 15 minutes lull you into a false sense of security as a gorgeous post-rock tune emerges and builds, complete with strings (especially a nice haunting violin sound) that doesn’t sound dissimilar to one of Mogwai’s quieter moments, but as the spoken word samples signal a shift in pace all hell breaks loose and the uncompromising nasty black/death metal guitars kick in along with the tortured vocals. The whole thing winds down with a combination of the first two parts interspersing reflective instrumentation with sludgy guitars and screamed/growled vocals and you are left feeling like you’ve been on some kind of terrifying but ultimately redemptive journey….or maybe that’s just me!

It’s difficult to know what track to put up as any one of the three parts would totally misrepresent the rest of the album, so I would encourage anyone even slightly interested to seek out the whole thing, but seeing as this is supposed to be my favourite metal album of 2012, I’d better post the most metal one.
(it doesn’t have the weird introduction on the record – this is the only digital version I could find)


…the other 4 to follow…erm…quite soon!

K-Pop – random thoughts…

Sakura’s Kara Earworm got my mind wandering this morning and I happened to have my laptop in my bag, so here are some random thinkings…….

I have to confess that I’m kind of fascinated by the whole K-pop phenomenon. As you may know, most K-pop stars are required to attend intensive and thorough training and teaching in a wide range of skills – singing, dancing, language skills (usually English, Japanese and Chinese), interview and media training etc alongside regular school studies, for a number of years before they are unleashed on the world as a complete unit. It’s like a combination of university study and job training.

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An Early Appearance

Just to let you all know that the Panther cub decided to make his presence felt by arriving a whole month unfashionably early.

One moment I was drinking a cold one, munching on barbecued maguro and cooing at the fireworks. One mad dash and 5 intense hours later, I had become a dad, without even realising what had just happened! That was just before 4 a.m on Sunday morning.

Mrs Panther and cub are both fine and the wee one seems to be reasonably strong and healthy despite his early entrance (they are both still in the hospital) and I’m on tenterhooks at home trying to get everything ready for the homecoming on Thursday.

I hope you’ll all forgive the odd lengthy absence or bleary-eyed post over the next few weeks as the Panther den (do panthers live in dens ?!) adjusts to its new member!

P.s. Allright, the lyrics have nothing to do with anything, but the title fits and Spill points on offer for why I chose the band……..oh, and it was either this or “Between Shit and Piss We Are Born” by Anaal Nathrakh ! !

Music Snob Tees

Riot Season records has been a favourite label of mine for a few years now, it releases doomy and noise type stuff and is the labour of love of a nice bloke called Andy. Well, he seems like a nice bloke, I don’t know him or anything!

Anyway, he has just started a new venture selling music snob t-shirts that I thought might tickle the fancy of some ‘Spillers. There are only a few designs so far, but I suppose more will be forthcoming.

I fancy the doom or krautrock one myself!

Check his website for what there is so far!

The Shortest ‘Spill Playlist Ever ! ! !


Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea – All New Podcast !

Yes, that’s right ‘Spillers, an all-new PODCAST! Long overdue, I know….but, better late than never, right? Well, don’t agree until you’ve listened to it !

It’s a very random and eclectic mix based on whatever was in my box of records at the time….and there were so many I didn’t get to that I wanted to include. They’ll have to wait until next time, I suppose.

Listen until the end for some exciting news ! Well, exciting for me, not perhaps for anyone else !

Enjoy !