Wednesday 21 March 2012


These two guys are no ordinary guys. This was taken way back in the 1980s, when pioneering "post-punk" (what the hell, Wikipedia?) duo Laid Back first formed. They're so much less post-punk than anything else. In fact, I'd go as far to say that they were the deciding force, a leading, influential voice, in the explosion of synth/electronic music of the early 80s, and as a result came out on top. Their ultra famous song 'White Horse' is so à la mode even for 2012. It didn't take me long to find this online whatsoever - listen to the glitch, synth, drum machine, strange lyrics goodness below.

I cut the video because it's too old. I prefer listening to it than watching them pretend to play it.

I keep going on about Hot Chip. I know I do. But this one above could be them - this time, it really could be them.

John Guldberg and Tim Stahl make up Laid Back. Recently the pair have decided that it would be cool to release some things from their early days that were never released back then. Here's what they said about it:
After “White Horse” being a track indeed defining our sound, we thought it
would be interesting to dig out left-overs to fulfill a documentation of
that period - crucial for us at the time. We were still innocent
newcomers, without actually knowing to be creating a new sound!

Recently, that left-over material was transferred from analogue to digital
and, to stay as true as possible to original intentions, we only added
vocals, bass and drumbeats ahead of a final mix.

And here's how it sounds.

It starts gently with this floating synth that is gradually interspersed with some steel drums, which I love. The bass synth then comes in properly and we're away with heavy beat. It's meaty, dissonant, and sounds like something from Streets of Rage (stage 5 to be exact). The repeating vocal "Laid back..." gives the song, funnily enough, a laid back quality. Those steel drums keep punctating the song throughout. It's electro with a powerful kick.

This song is the first taken from Laid Back's upcoming mini album COSYLAND, set to be released 7th May this year.

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Laid Back on SoundCloud
Read all about Laid Back on Wikipedia
Myspace page for Laid Back, too
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This is the remix of Zulu Winter's track 'We Should Be Swimming' by Rain Dogs. Zulu Winter have been at SXSW this year (along with 1,001 other bands) and after a quick bit of fun searching with their SEO-friendly, highly Googleable name, found that they were The Guardian's new band of the day on 11th October 2011. You know that episode of The Simpsons where Homer wants to be an inventor and makes that chart on his wall comparing himself with Thomas Edison? It's just like me and that bloody new band of the day blog on The Guardian.

Anyway, this remix is pretty nice. Flowing with an urban sensibility and the swagger that comes naturally with the dubstep beat, the song echoes with expansive synths and ghostly vocals above this epileptic, percussive little synth part. It's only till just over halfway through that we hear the 'original' vocals, heard nearly naked with just the beat swaying next to it. Then there's the occasional sub bass, used well and only at certain times. It's got a rich, clever sound - one that is ultimately more chill than thrill.

And now for the original.

It's pretty nice indie-pop-dance. They sound like a southern (being from London) Wild Beasts, somewhat anyway, with a few more electronic tricks added into the mix - like this ambient wave that just rises up throughout the song. There's something a little bit Foals about them too - not necessarily in the sound, a little bit in the sound, but more in the way the dynamic is brought to the listener's ears: guitar rushes up in surges and clashes with cymbals and that electronic tide that rises up with it.

The lyrics are pretty nice too (and was what, aside from the beat, made me compare them to Wild Beasts). In the first half of the song, before everything becomes loud and refraining, the lyrics are much more audible, clearer and varied. Lyrical acrobatics, little images here and there; they're nice words. To what 'We Should Be Swimming' refers eludes me though.

Zulu Winter's debut album Language is released on 14th May 2012 (Play It Again Sam Recordings).

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Zulu Winter's blog
Their SoundCloud
• Here is their Facebook page
... official site
• And follow them on Twitter if you like

• And this is Rain Dog's SoundCloud
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Tuesday 20 March 2012


It's the return of Hot Chip!

This new song, 'Flutes', comes ahead of their new album In Our Heads, set for release on Domino Records in June this year.

Musically, this song seems different from favourites like 'Ready For The Floor', 'And I Was A Boy From School' and 'Over And Over' - there's definitely something a little more straitlaced in this than those glitch-heavy tunes. It's still got plenty of energy and the Hot Chip touch that makes this track, laden as it is with intelligent beats and a simple bassline, is still there.

I've listened to this like 5 or more times now and each time I have enjoyed it more. It's difficult to pin down what exactly is different about this, the vocals are superb as ever (when you hear that voice it's not hard to say 'omg it's Hot Chip'), but the sound is different. I'm going round in circles.

It's addictive dance music at its best and Hot Chip have moved, not necessarily with the crowd, but at least progressively away from the kind of sound that made them what they were back in 2006. It's change, but it's a welcome one. Looking forward to this album.

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Hot Chip's official site
• And here's Hot Chip on SoundCloud
• They're on Myspace too
• Become a fan of Hot Chip on Facebook
Follow Hot Chip on Twitter
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This is a lovely little song from El Guincho featuring Chilean indie pop star, Javiera Mena. The song 'Novias' itself was released on El Guincho's 2010 album, Pop Negro.

Also known by his real name, Pablo Díaz-Reixa, El Guincho is a Spanish musician who utilises skills in playing instruments and in samples to create something that's a cross between tropical sounds, electro-pop and Afrobeat. 'Novias', this time around featuring the lovely Javiera Mena (who's in the picture to the right; you can see her in full below - I just thought you might need to know what she looks like), is no exception to this style.

You would not really find this style of music in the UK. Typically, anything remotely Latin-sounding has been reserved solely for our Spanish and South American cousins, and has largely been ignored by us here. Could it possibly be the language that puts people off? Maybe. Could it be the sound, in general? Maybe.

But think of the song below playing on a lovely summer's day in merry old England. Think of sitting out on the grass and putting this song, on some old school boombox if you have one (you hipster), or just on your iPhone (you loser) - how much would it add to that calypso summer mood that prevails whenever the white star of the sun beams down unhindered light from a massive blue sky bouncing off the individual blades of grass making htem shine like little green fingers of flexiglass and there's this little breeze brushing past you every few minutes keeping the heat from ever broiling you too much and there are trees and birds and bees alive all around you.

...You know that kind of day? This song would make a more-than-relevant part in anyone's summer playlist.

Why did I not know about this, like, two years ago?

It's immensely happy, as joyful as it is modest and unassuming. The Afrobeat, dancehall drums lock in with a bass that's a wonderful show of reggae influence - both thumping behind the main crux of the track, in this instance, Javiera Mena's rich, warm vocals. The honky-tonk synth sounds that make up the melody are lovely, too, providing a chilled beach vibe throughout the track. I've listened to the original and have decided that this version, the one above, is much better - if not just for Mena's voice.

The tropical sound then overflows with even more percussion, sounding like a container filled with musical instruments is being shaken in some gigantic maraca by the god of music. It's a really great song, and something that should be made more audible in such sun-deprived countries as ours. You should definitely grab some sunshine with El Guincho and Javiera Mena.

Since his 2008 album, Alegranza, El Guincho has been a pretty prominent artist - clearly not too much in English-speaking countries (not in the UK anyway). For this song he joined forces with captivating Javiera Mena (above), the electro-pop princess of Chile, who's been making music since since 2001 or something like that, and broke through into indie/pop fame with first studio album, Esquemas Juveniles (2006). This was a lovely mix - let's hope they team-up again!

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El Guincho's Myspace page
• Here is his official site
• And his YouTube page/profile

• On the other hand, we have Javiera Mena's Myspace
• Her official site
• And here you can follow her on Twitter
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Today, Thieves Like Us release new album Bleed Bleed Bleed following around five years of success since first appearing on a Kitsuné CD back in 2007. Via various international cities, such as Berlin and New York, the glittery dance-pop trio found themselves finally in Paris, making music that reeks of the French capital's ineffable stylish cool.

Finding solace in throwback 80s sounds like David Bowie and Iggy Pop, in their most glam of days, their music finds a convenient shelf space next to what would be a cross between contemporary stars of the late 2000s, Hot Chip and Crystal Castles - according to their Bio on YouTube. I don't find the comparison unfavourable. That 80s twist, however, gave them an edge and a different sound, and has evolved into what we hear now.

The album has this glorious sound, this echoing gloom that has been turned into wonderfully danceable tracks. This one below, 'Stay Blue', is a prime example (just the title alone). The bassline is deceptively chripy, a street-wise-sounding lot of trumps on a swag-along-the-pavement beat. Add to this a glitsy arrangement of synth strings that envelop everything else, and you have yourself a pretty nice song.

It's catchy, summer-afternoon music, perfectly aligned to the sun as it drops - not as it rises. If you're worried that this is an anomaly on the album then don't worry: the same atmosphere is garnered through the next series of songs, the swaggering attitude of title track 'Bleed Bleed Bleed' is a good example, as is the cocksure beat of 'Still Life', which features in it some laid-back, jangly guitar.

Darker still - but dark like a sun behind clouds, not dark like a dark room - is 'Fatima' and 'The Killing Revelation', the latter finding its melancholy pierced by cheery guitar stabs and pretty virtuoso bass. Actually, 'Bleed Bleed Bleed II' came as a pleasant surprise - almost a remix of the fist track of the album, it's a relatively energetic punt what with a little distorted guitar and a fast-paced chorus with some relentless drums thrown in for good measure.

Then we have the utter 80s vibe of 'Maria Marie' - listen below. It couldn't be any more that era if it tried. Everything from the vocals, to the slowly galloping beat, the empty echoes of the synthed-up bass and the blippy melodic notes fizzing around on top, smacks of many yesteryears ago.

That's not to say it's not a beautiful song, because it is. It is proper electro-pop. It's electro-pop in a suit, with a serious head on its shoulders.

The rest of the album goes as you'd expect it to, from vocal-heavy 'Memory Song', and a similarly-vibed 'Your Love Runs Still' (which could be a Hot Chip song, if Hot Chip loved these kinds of basslines as much as Thieves Like Us do). Closing on 'Worthy To Me', Bleed Bleed Bleed finishes with expansive, ambient sounds - possibly on the most 'serious' song of the album - and finishes favourably. It's an album of much sameness, but that is not a bad thing. If anything, it's a good thing.

I mean, you could even say Mozart sounds a bit samey. All those violins. More of the same sound, if the sound is really nice, is a good thing. It's the reason why you'd listen to the same song 10 times in a row. And if you'd do that, why not go one better and listen to a whole album of similar sounds?

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Listen to Thieves Like Us on SoundCloud
• They have a Myspace page, too
Official site for Thieves Like Us
Facebook page
• Follow Thieves Like Us on Twitter
• (They're on YouTube, as well)
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Monday 19 March 2012


Short and sweet, this is 'Galax-E' from dub-ambient-glitch-step music maker and DJ, Tibbin. The spacey sounds, massively synthed bells (or what sound like bells), and the fast bongo percussion amalgamates into this great little track, at once epic and descriptive of some kind of imaginary landscape. Simultaneously ambient and heavy.

As yet unsigned, there are a host of numbers on his SoundCloud, ranging from mixes and unfinished works, experiments with sound and rhythm, to fully-fledged tracks, like this one (personal favourite). It fades out at full capacity, the sound drifiting away into nothing, leaving you lost in this dream world of sound. It sounds a bit like it should be in a game, you know? Maybe because it's reminiscent of the 'Shifting Sand Land' theme in Mario 64 (click to hear) - bongos and strange effects galore.

Very much looking forward to hearing more.

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Tibbin's on SoundCloud
• And Twitter
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Relatively new Kitsuné hero, Computer Magic has released a new EP (12th March), Orion. It's hip-swaying, disco-friendly synth, harking back nearly to the heyday of this kind of electronic music (2006/7). But it still seems wonderfully relevant. How could it not be? Not heard of Computer Magic? Don't worry. Here's something from the About section of the official Computer Magic site:

Computer Magic began in the Winter/Summer of 2010, and is the solo project of 22-year-old DJ/blogger Danielle “Danz” Johnson.

Danz is originally from upstate New York, and now resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Currently, Danz is working on Computer Magic’s first full length album with Chris Egan on drums and percussion.

If this debut album is going to be anything like this EP, filled to the brim as it is with gentle, unearthly electro stylings that have marked the evolution from the brash, party-time saw-waves of a few years ago: it's now smart, minimal, moody and marked with a sensitivity to both a bit of headspace as well as the dancefloor. Here's 'Trinity', a song from the EP - have a listen:

What do you think? It has this consistent disco-esque bassline that keeps the song going underneath fizzy synth and distorted electronic squeals that serve as a great melody. The ambient warm sound that rise up every now and again lend the song a pop quality, especially in the chorus - when everything becomes jangly and climactic. A little New Young Pony Club, you know, but darker. Electro-pop heaven for a time in our collective history that isn't all roses.

It doesn't sound new. But then again, it doesn't sound old, old as in re-hashed I mean. It sounds of a certain era, and it sounds just fine that way. If you have Spotify, I recommend giving this very Kitsuné-typical artist a good listen. Those electro-pop soundscapes come alive in this new EP.

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• Here's Computer Magic on SoundCloud
• He's on defunct old Myspace, too
Facebook page for Computer Magic
• He also has an official site
• And Computer Magic is on Twitter!
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John Talabot's ƒIN is one of the most welcome releases I've heard this year so far. The whole album marks a darker detraction from his earlier, much lighter variant of house music, sitting as it is now in the pitch blackness of minor tones, minimalist beats, echoes, reverberting hand-claps and a spooky ambience that would do well to accompany the mood at a kind of Cafe del Mar at the end of the world.

But all that does by no means infer that ƒIN is bad. It is bad, as in good; it's good, as in great. Just be prepared for a darker outing: instead of a parasol, you'll need a torch.

Whilst I'd love to talk about the whole thing, let me just focus on one particiularly brilliant song from Talabot's latest effort. It's the wonderful 'So Will Be Now...' featuring fellow-Spanish outfit (and fellow Permanent Vacation label-mate), Pional.

It's the last track on the new album, and is almost like a study of how best to build up the atmosphere of a song. It's near-perfect, featuring light, mechanical hi-hats that flit above a low modulating bass, and a thin snare, accompanied every now and again by a hauntingly echoing clap that fits greatly with the synthesised sound flying in every now and again, a sound like striking an icicle with an electrolised tuning fork. There's this perfect breakdown in the middle of the song, where the beat disappears and all we hear is this vocal sample, gently dragged down an octave or so, to give it this androidiac sense of the middle of the night and loneliness.

The percussion in this, as to be expected of such a seasoned house producer as Talabot, is addictive, each different sound hitting a corresponding target in the brain. The samples. The gradual ascent of this fizzy, slightly saw-wave synth towards the end. The rise of sounds from that eerie minimal beginning to the finish, where it culminates in genuine dancefloor bliss before popping like some pleasure balloon into only a metronome of a beat and a hint of a sound, is genius and should not and cannot be disputed.

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Check out John Talabot on SoundCloud
• More of John Talbot's music on his Myspace page (more traffic is now had on Tagged than Myspace, fyi)
• Check out his Facebook page
• (Permanent Vacation's official site)
• (And here's their Facebook page)

Wednesday 14 March 2012


Errors are really good. Like, really good. I've been meaning to post this since this EP first came out, but. This two song EP is a whole lot of a good, and a great way to introduce yourself into the distorted guitar-slash-electronic echoness that characterises this Glasgow band.

The Pleasure Palaces EP is stunning. There's 'Auberchute Flyer', which modulates like some ambient dream and has this glossy tone that runs over one super echo of vocals. The synthesised bells are really lovely, giving it this heavenly quality. It's entirely unchanging throughout, stinks of delay and electronica, but is fabulously 'there'. Fades in, fades out. I'm on a cloud.

Then there's the title track. Have a listen.

(Aiya! I love the look of this video. The colours. Colour blocking. So S/S 2012. This isn't a fashion blog. Sorry.)

My Allah. This song is just unreal. You see the image above? The weird, rainbow cave? Well, if 'Auberchute Flyer' is the day music (or the morning-after-the-night-before) in this cathedralic cavern, then 'Pleasure Palaces' is its night time club tune. That iridal cave is the Pleasure Palaces themselves. The beat is in constrast to the no-beat of 'Auberchute Flyer' - and, sure it stands out more as a result, but it's damn infectious I tell thee. 'Pleasure Palaces' rises, falls, comes to climaxes with the mad harmonising choir of vocals that grows huge and actually gets into your blood. Then there's the simple, synth hook. Ah. It's pure bliss. And the ending to the song: the gradual slowing of some massive machine of music.

It's all I can do to highly recommend this EP and the subsequent album - Have A Little Faith In Magic - on which you'll find some more of the above in a similar vein, plus a little guitar action. I love Errors (who have been going for years, it seems - time to tell the world about them).

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Errors on Soundcloud
• They also have a Myspace page (?)
• But you should follow them on Twitter, why not?
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Tuesday 13 March 2012


Having enjoyed the past grooves and mellow-jangly guitar scapes of Wild Nothing - the one-man-band that is Jack Tatum - I was pleased to see the new, two-track Nowhere EP floating around. I was even more pleased to hear it.

The haze dream of first track 'Wait' is an up-tempo foray into a quasi-psychadelic sound. Some ancient recording process has allowed Wild Nothing's new songs to sound like Beatles B-sides (at least for a few seconds in the chorus). There's a lovely little guitar lick in this one which, though far from towering, is rich and warm, but all too short. On a side note, is it wrong to say that this could be a sped-up Fleet Foxes basking in the sun? Perhaps it is.

Next we have the title track, 'Nowhere' - it's markedly different to previous work, which was speckled with more melancholy than it is now. The sunshine duster has gone to work on these songs, though within this song there is that sense of nostalgia that always brings with it a little sadness. There's an instrument used here that I can't quite pin down - sounds like some kind of mouth organ - but it is lovely. It smacks of innocent sunshine days. It lacks a sure hook, but it works great both as background music and active, have-a-listen-to-this-and-chill-the-eff-out music.

And in this grey weather (that we share occasionally with the wide blue of the sky) nothing could be more welcome than a prevarication of better times to come. In terms of weather anyway; let's not bring politics into this.

Have a listen above. Wild Nothing is definitely on my summer playlist. Which starts now of course, now that my winter coat has been voided finally. Let's all get into the groove of jangle-dream-haze-pop.

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This is Wild Nothing on MySpace (why?)
Wild Nothing has also been encylopediated on Wikipedia
• Oh look, Facebook too
• And why not follow Wild Nothing on Twitter? (though it's sadly neglected)
• [EDIT] Not forgetting the official