Friday, January 31, 2014

After the Gramme

In my Albums of the Year last month, I was remiss in forgetting that Gramme had put out a (terrific) long player in 2013, and I'd like to correct that omission.  Gramme chose to return to recording some 14 years after their initial, well-received punk-funk offering (see posts passim); why they failed to capitalise on their moment at the start of the 21st century, just as Simon Reynolds was finishing writing Rip It Up, and when Output Records was the last word in metropolitan chic, is beyond me (though an even more egregious example of missing the boat also arrived in 2013 when Johnny Hates Jazz issued an album 22 years after the last one).  Whatever their reasons for their 14 year hiatus (and they're being slightly opaque about why they've been away), I'm very happy they're back; the sound-- dirty scuzzy raunch-- is still intact, and they seem to be in it for the long(ish) haul, talking about future tours, new albums etc.

Daddy Cool

It's a long way from the Bronx to the Barras, but Scotland's hip hop scene (and no, that's not a typo) is thriving, and nowhere more so than Auld Reekie.  The excellent Stanley Odd were nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year award last year (and in a country that has consistently punched above its weight musically, that's not as parochial an award as it might seem). And the Young Fathers, who have put out a couple of semi-official mixtapes prior to now, are about to release their first official album through Anticon/Big Dada.  They're on tour from Feb 1st, and this is the first single. It's fantastic.


For Whom The Bells Toll

In case you weren't convinced that life is inherently unfair, the news that Benjamin Curtis was a late addition to 2013's RIP list should clinch it.  As pretty much one half of School of Seven Bells, as well as the prime mover of Secret Machines, Curtis was responsible for some of the most striking music of the last five years, and the 2012 album Ghostory was one of the year's best. If they'd had a dollar for every critic that mentioned the Cocteau Twins in their reviews, they'd have been millionaires, but in truth, while any Cocteau Twins influences in anyone's oeuvre are entirely welcomed by this particular critic, they were far more than mere copyists.  The crunching beats that accompanied their ethereal leanings were rarely heard on 4AD (with the exceptions of M/A/R/R/S and Colourbox), and seem to owe more to Def Jam than Dif Juz. However you slice it, though, pegging out at the age of 33, when stadium-filling acclaim seems to be within your grasp, is particularly cruel.