Archive for January, 2011
Well, here it is – the new, self-titled album from re-formed UK post-rock legends Seefeel, featuring a new version of the single “Faults”, as well as the widely-circulated MP3 preview “Dead Guitars”. The advance buzz created by those tracks suggested that Seefeel would either be absolutely phenomenal or a little bit samey. Both tracks implied a new formula at work, mixing slow-motion cyber dub riddims with viciously granulated guitar textures and over-modulated bass charges. A fantastic formula – one that produced thrillingly original and eerily beautiful music – but a formula, all the same.
The full album doesn’t entirely dispel the fears of samey-ness but it does allow listeners to see and hear this formula in its correct context. As with Oval’s O, the limited sound palette may prevent this album from gaining immediate classic status but – frankly – there’s nothing else standing in the way. Aside from anything, the material here is incredibly strong, with Sarah Peacock’s wraith-like (but in no way insubstantial) vocal melodies branding a number of songs indelibly on the listener’s memory.
Perhaps more to the point, Seefeel also features a number of drum-free abstract passages that lend a palpable sense of dynamism to the overall work, preventing any hint of monotony from ever setting in. In fact, this album is probably more varied than the band’s classic debut, Quique, which similarly explored a specific set of processed guitar textures over the length of an entire album. Clearly, this new record is simply an example of Seefeel doing what Seefeel does best. And tracks like “Rip-Run” are as good as anything the band has ever released.
Spoiler alert: there’s very little chance, even at this early stage, that Seefeel won’t be in Bubblegum Cage III’s top ten albums of 2011. It’s that good.
The official release date seems to be January 31st, when you should be able to buy it from Boomkat.
You may remember this here blog’s recent year-end roundup post freely acknowledging that there were a lot of intriguing 2010 releases that were still in the pile marked “to hear”. Naturally, the Christmas season – with all it’s accompanying free time and Albums of the Year lists – provided a great opportunity to catch up on some listening. Often, this meant finally giving a serious listen to things that reputable sources had been bigging up for months. In other cases, it meant tracking down physical copies of recent releases by favourite artists. Most of all, though, it meant having lots of great new (and old) music to listen to. Here are three of the most notable discoveries…
Forest Swords – Dagger Paths (Old English Spelling Bee) LP
It’s ridiculous that the Bubblegum Cage III slept on this one for so long. Perhaps the association with a record label primarily known for pumping out lo-fi nostalgia rock was the off-putting factor here. Dagger Paths has been described as a cross between the modish “hynagogic pop” sound and Burial-style avant dubstep. The hypnagogic comparison doesn’t really ring true, though. There’s no sign of fuggy 80s pop pastiche here. Furthermore, despite being connected with on one of the US underground’s hippest imprints, Forest Swords is a British artist and – more to the point – Dagger Paths is a thoroughly British sounding record. Much of the music presented on this mini album is strongly reminiscent of pioneering UK post-rock acts like Scorn and Moonshake (and if it recalls an American band, it’s the UKPR-flavoured Nudge, whose As Good as Gone was this hear blog’s Album of the Year in 2009). Apparently, though, it was post-punk that was the major influence here. Certainly, there’s a bit of the Fall sound here, most clearly audible in those Stephen Hanley-esque bass stylings.
As you’ve probably figured out by now, Dagger Paths is right up this here blog’s alley. So much so, in fact, that it definitely would have made it into the 2010 top ten if it had been given a fair hearing before that list was compiled. Apologies to all the people who recommended it earlier in the year.
Forest Swords – “If Your Girl” (an Aaliyah cover!)
Grasslung – Sincere Void (Root Strata) CD
Again, this is an album that some extremely hip listeners were pushing last year and one that nobody among BBCIII’s massed editorial ranks actually got around to hearing until January. Doh! So much beauty ignored for so long!! Basically, Sincere Void is a more analogue-focused take on the recent Fennesz sound. In fact, opening track “Scarred Hands They Drifted” could be straight off Venice. That chord sequence sounds seriously familiar. What this album most closely recalls, though, is the Tim Hecker-influenced guitar atmospherics of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s Love is a Stream – which makes sense because it was released on Cantu-Ledesma’s Root Strata label.
So, while this may not be one of the more original releases of recent times, it is one of the loveliest. Yep, definitely should have caught onto this one sooner. Apologies, again, to all those who recommended it way back when.
The Fall – The Wonderful & Frightening World of The Fall [Omnibus Edition] (Beggars Banquet) 4CD + book
This is the big one, in more ways than one. Four CDs of remastered album tracks, singles, B sides, rarities, radio sessions and live recordings orbiting the serious gravity of what anyone who isn’t a twat knows to be The Fall’s best album. At the end of 2010, it was looking like Editions Mego’s 2LP pressing of Fennesz’s Endless Summer was going to take the prize for Not Only Re-Issue of the Year but Also Best Re-Issue Evar! Well, this one is even better. The Bubblegum Cage III doesn’t usually discuss re-issues in a best-of-the-year context but this one is just too darn choice to pass up on.
The only real quibble here is that the oral history presented in the accompanying book seems designed specifically to reinforce well-established but short-sighted critical dogmas, when it should have been the perfect opportunity to challenge these very dogmas. Wonderful & Frightening…, according to the history presented here, represents the beginning of The Fall’s “pop period” – catchy choruses came into play as never before, producer John Leckie made the band sound clean ‘n’ tuneful and “Bug Day” was just a bit of filler. This, of course, is bullshit. In reality, Wonderful & Frightening… is essentially a better realised Hex Enduction Hour – an onslaught of monumental avant rock barbarism and sparse, abstract melancholia. Are tracks like”Lay of the Land” and the contemporary single “No Bulbs” really any more approachable, than “Totally Wired” or “How I Wrote Elastic Man”? The stuff about Leckie putting the band in tune is particularly galling, as he famously did the exact opposite – knocking all the guitars slightly out of tune, to give the band a bigger, rawer sound. Oh well, British rock historians have never let reality get in the way of a good party line, have they?
Still, it goes without saying that this is a 100% essential purchase for all Fall fans and anyone with a serious interest in rock history. Huge. The hugest.
Some time around Christmas, the original Dream Rock & Noise Pop compilation went fully (or at least partly) viral. This strange occurrence seems to have had its origins in a re-blog posted by a Tumblr site dedicated primarily to post-punk. From there, things went a little bonkers.
Embarrassingly, the onset of bonkersness happened to coincide with the Bubblegum Cage III Sub-Committee on Mix CDs issuing its official report on Dream Rock & Noise Pop Vol. 1. The report stated: “It’s alright, I guess but a few of the songs on the second half are a bit shit, aren’t they?” It continued: “Compared to the blog’s signature UK Post-Rock compilations, this seems a bit thrown together. And besides, isn’t this what they call ‘shoegaze’ – a term which most reputable sources define as ‘post-rock with all the good bits taken out’. ” Who writes this stuff?
Never mind. A subsequent Sub-Sub-Committee’s report on the report stated that this judgement was “a bit harsh, really” but also decreed that a second volume would have to be carefully compiled, to address some of the problems that had arisen with the first one. A Sub-Sub-Sub Committee was formed, to oversee the compilation of the compilation and mere weeks later, the track-listing for Dream Pop & Noise Rock 1985-1993 Vol. 2 was finalized. Who says that pointless bureaucracy is slow-moving and inefficient? Not ’round these parts it ain’t!
Anyway, the members of this Sub-Sub-Sub Committee unanimously agreed that the first half of Vol. 1 was actually pretty killer. Consequently, most of the artists represented there reappear on the new volume. This is no mere re-run, though. Some big names that were conspicuous by their absence from the first volume finally show up on Vol. 2. About time too! You have to wonder why Swervedriver got left off the first time around. And Sonic Youth, for God’s sake! What band could be more central to this loose continuum of raucous, dreamy and immersive indie/avant rock bands from both sides of the Atlantic (circa 1985-93) ?
Actually, there’s a sorta good-ish reason for SY’s initial exclusion. The original compilers were trying to prevent overlap with a mix CD of late-80s/early-90s US indie rock, which was being compiled at the same time. This was also the reason that sublime tunes like Drop Nineteens’ “Winona” and Ultra Vivid Scene’s “Special One” got left off Vol. 1. Luckily (or not, depending on how you look at it) the indie rock playlist was accidentally deleted and that whole project was abandoned, which has facilitated the creation of an extremely tight second half of this compilation (something, you’ll remember, that was sadly lacking from the previous volume).
You may notice that this super-tight second half (again, conspicuously) avoids a few of the central acts from the British shoegaze scene. In fact, the compilation, as a whole, largely avoids shoegaze per-se. The Sub-Sub-Sub Committee made considerable attempts to engage with some of the more generic shoegaze bands (these compilations being essentially an ongoing investigation into the origins and nature of that very genre) but the results were largely negative. Chapterhouse? Hopelessly derivative! Adorable? Anything but! Moose? Actually, not that bad! (Srsly: “Suzanne” stands up pretty well, even when you play it right after My Bloody Valentine’s singularly mind-bending “Don’t Ask Why”.)
For the most part, though, Vol. 2 is very much the mirror image of Vol. 1 – same artists, different songs. If there’s a Vol 3., it’ll explore much further afield, honest – but there are mixed feelings among this here blog’s vast bureaucracy about whether there should be a Vol. 3. On the one hand, nobody wants the Bubblegum Cage III to become a mere repository for mix-tapes. On the other, somebody has to make a compilation featuring “Tomorrow’s Tears” by Cranes. Great song but so, so easy to forget about until it’s too late.
Whatever happens, the third volume still isn’t going to feature Seefeel, Papa Sprain, Flying Saucer attack or any of the other dreamy avant rock acts that have featured on Bubblegum Cage III’s UK Post-Rock compilations. Again, this is all about avoiding overlap and redundancy.
In conclusion then, what the Sub-Sub-Sub Committee has come up with (in its infinite collective wisdom) is a collection of stuff that isn’t quite post-rock but isn’t quite shoegaze. In terms of quality, it should be every bit as good as any of the UK Post-Rock compilations. Still, it’s hard to get away from the suspicion that it’s fundamentally not as interesting as any of the volumes in that series. The chances are you were already familiar with some, if not most, of the artists featured on the Dream Rock & Noise Pop compilations. The UK Post-Rock comps, on the other hand, are likely to represent an undiscovered world of strange and marvellous wonders, for most listeners. And for that very reason, this here blog is giving all of y’all the opportunity to download every single bloody one of those magnificent post-rock mixes, directly from this very post. Scroll down for the links.
In the meantime, you can click here to download Dream Rock & Noise Pop 1985-1993 Vol. 2 in its glorious entirety or right-click (ctrl-click on the Mac, yo) to snag the individual tracks you want from the track-listing below.
1. The Jesus and Mary Chain – “Some Candy Talking”
2. Spacemen 3 – “Losing Touch with My Mind”
3. My Bloody Valentine – “Emptiness Inside”
4. A.R. Kane – “Suicide Kiss”
5. Sonic Youth – “Teen Age Riot”
6. Loop – “Black Sun”
7. The House of Love – “I Don’t Know Why I Love You”
8. Ride – “Drive Blind”
9. Cocteau Twins – “Iceblink Luck”
10. Lush – “De-Luxe”
11. Ultra Vivid Scene – “Special One”
12. Pale Saints – “Sight of You”
13. My Bloody Valentine – “Don’t Ask Why”
14. Moose – “Suzanne”
15. Swervedriver – “Rave Down”
16. Drop Nineteens – “Winona”
17. The Boo Radleys – “Rodney King (Song for Lenny Bruce)”
18. Slowdive – “When the Sun Hits”
And here are those UK Post-Rock compilations…
UK Post-Rock Vol. 1
Featuring Disco Inferno, Butterfly Child, Insides, Laika, Moonshake, Flying Saucer Attack, Bark Psychosis, Scorn, God and Main.
Click here to download UK Post-Rock Vol. 1
UK Post-Rock Vol. 2
Featuring Papa Sprain, Flying Saucer Attack, Bark Psychosis, Disco Inferno, Moonshake, The Third Eye Foundation, Experimental Pop Band, Pram, Fridge, Techno Animal and Piano Magic.
Click here to download UK Post-Rock Vol. 2
UK Post-Rock Vol. 3
Featuring Disco Inferno, Transformer, Adventures in Stereo, Stereolab, Snowpony, Moonshake, Scala, The Third Eye Foundation, Movietone, Papa Sprain, Bark Psychosis, Scorn, Terminal Cheesecake, Main and The Hair & Skin Trading Company.
Click here to download UK Post-Rock Vol. 3
UK Post-Rock Vol. 4
Featuring Bark Psychosis, Disco Inferno, Hood, Amp, Moonshake, Flying Saucer Attack, The Hair & Skin Trading Company, Long Fin Killie, Papa Sprain, Butterfly Child, Piano Magic, Spoonfed Hybrid and Earwig.
Click here to download UK Post-Rock Vol. 4
UK Post-Rock Vol. 5
Featuring Insides, Long Fin Killie, Telstar Ponies, Disco Inferno, Papa Sprain, Epic45, Scorn, Seefeel, The Third Eye Foundation, Ice, Terminal Cheesecake and Bark Psychosis. This is the least downloaded of all the UK Post-Rock comps but it’s actually one of the best. Don’t sleep on this one! In fact, you should probably START WITH THIS ONE!
Click here to download UK Post-Rock Vol. 5
UK Post-Rock Vol. 6
Featuring Deadstock, Locust, Ian Crause, Broadcast, Bows, Screeper, Echoboy, Electrelane, Bovine Over Sussex NE, Rothko, Juicy Eureka, Experimental Audio Research, L i ght, Crescent and The Third Eye Foundation.
Click here to download UK Post-Rock Vol. 6
Phew, what a big pile of awesomeness for you dig through! If, in the process of doing so, you find any links that take you to the wrong place, or simply don’t work, please mention it via the usual channels. Oh and if your music is included on any of these compilations and you don’t want it to be, just get in touch and it will be removed before you can say “What an unusually efficient example of old-school bureaucracy!”
Bubblegum Cage III: Bringing wonder back to the Internet, one hastily written, poorly proofread post at a time.
Broadcast & The Focus Group – “The Be Colony”
The first in a new series of mix CDs compiled by guest editors. This time, it’s the turn of Kris from Kris’s Blog. She’s come up with an ace collection of contemporary indie rock, the type of which might not seem out of place over at Raven Sings the Blues. Enjoy!
Here’s the full tracklisting, with a few notes from the curator.
1. Kidnap Kids! – “Stories”
“Naivety and being slammered. Confident, odd and my favourite new band.”
2. Myelin Sheaths- “Everything is Contagious”
“Snappy rock song about the dangers of hand sanitizer.”
3. Cloud Nothings- “Can’t Stay Awake”
“Sam doesn’t think it sounds cool enough to be on Carpark but it is. Child prodigy plays fuzzy pop.”
4. Apollo Ghosts – “Hub City”
“Complex and oh-so-vibrant pop songs.”
5. Panda Bear – “You Can Count on Me”
“The best thing to come out of Animal Collective. Good for driving and sleeping.”
6. Dirty Projectors – “As I Went Out One Morning”
“I admit they are awesome.”
7. Computer Magic – “The End of Time”
“Eighties-esque synth pop with clarity and glitchy sounds.”
8. Dum Dum Girls – “Jail La La”
“Good for her!”
9. Black Tambourine – “Throw Aggi Off the Bridge”
“Absolute classic under-achiever band I missed the first time.”
11. Woods – “The Dark”
“This B-side is my favourite Woods song. No freak outs.”
12. Sic Alps – “Do You Want to Give $$?”
“New song is good.”
13. Reading Rainbow – “Tough Love”
“Harmonic and dreamy.”
14. Juvenile Hall – “High on Drugs”
“Lo-fi Vancouver punk girls.”
15. Bare Wires – “Teen Witch”
“Not such original garage rock but who doesn’t love teen witches?”
16. Ty Segall – “Girlfriend”
“So catchy I can only love it.”