Archive for June, 2018

Great new music… Cold Water Swimmers

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2018 by dc


Cold Water Swimmers are a brand new, fresh out the oven band from Manchester, England. They were formed just a few months back by Chris Bridgett (Dub Sex, Rude Club, The G-O-D) and I was lucky enough to see them perform last month at an intimate gig in the city’s Northern Quarter. They blew me away.

Raw and unflinching, their sound combines elements of post-punk and garage rock to create something really immediate and moving. They only have a handful of songs currently and there’s only a snatch of debut single, She’s Falling Apart available to listen to, but releases are in the pipeline and imminent. Make a note and get onboard. You can follow CWS on Twitter here and stay up to date. Here’s a snippet of, She’s Falling Apart

Great new music… Lay Llamas

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2018 by dc


This coming Friday (June 15th), Italian psychedelic rockers, Lay Llamas, release their second album, Thuban.

Their first album, Ostro, was released back in 2014 and is packed with lots of krautrock influenced psychedelia, afrobeat rhythms and hypnotic otherworldliness. There are obvious current touchstones like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Goat, The Limiñanas and Clinic, but there’s something a little bit different to their sound too, an astral and wide-eyed aura that sucks in lots of influences but never sounds copy cat. There’s a masterful blend of spacey psych jams, trippy mellow moments and hooky motorik grooves, and that little bit of magic that hooked me in as soon as I heard them.

With the recent success of Aussie psychedelic acts in the shapes of Tame Impala, KGATLW, Pond and Jagwar Ma, and the rise of psychedelic festivals across Europe, it’s a bit of a surprise their debut album didn’t get a wider audience. Hopefully their sophomore release will change all that.

Ahead of the album’s release, three of Thuban’s eight tracks have recently seen the light of day on both Youtube and Spotify. Check out, Holy Worms, Altair and Silver Sun below:

You can follow Lay Llamas on Twitter @LayLlamas. Thuban is out on Friday.

Good news – more of it, please…

Posted in Culture, News, Pop Culture with tags , , , , , , , on June 9, 2018 by dc


With all the hideous news we’re bombarded with daily, this evening I was thinking about the notion of a website that just publishes positive news and features. Something that balances out all the misery but is also entertaining and fun without being blinkered.

Like every decent idea there’s already stuff I’ve found (Positive News and the Good News Network). But I couldn’t find much else apart from sections on the Huffington Post and Daily Telegraph sites dedicated to good news.

The Good News sites and sections currently out there are nice and definitely worth the odd visit, but a they’re a bit bland and there seems to be a gap in the market.

I’m not talking fake news, nor am I talking about the kind of site that seems cut off from the realities of everyday living and is all fluffy animals and do-gooder tales. Quite the opposite. I think it’s more a matter of focus, and of course intrigue and humour.

There are popular sites that I often visit to read features and stories like Vice, Cracked and Buzzfeed, but that’s often for titillation and daft stuff. I’m thinking about something that bridges the gap between classic good news stories, positive global news, modern culture, and humour and satire too. Without mixing those things up and creating a hodge-podged mess!

Is it an impossible task? Am I right in thinking there’s a huge audience for some kind of site like this? Sometimes the echo chamber’s so noisy it’s hard to tell a good idea from a bad one…

Ten of the most underappreciated albums of all time

Posted in Lists, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2018 by dc

If you happen to flick through any list purporting to contain the Top 50 or Top 100 albums of all time, about 70% of the same old albums constantly pop up. Very few of us really need to go and discover The Beatles’White Album‘, ‘Led Zeppelin IV’, ‘Pet Sounds’ or ‘Dark Side Of The Moon‘. If you’re a music fan past the age of 30 you’ve heard most of the list and it gets pretty monotonous reading about how great Ziggy Stardust or The Velvet Underground were.

So, with that in mind I’ve put together a list of Slacker Shack‘s ‘Ten Most Underappreciated Albums Of All Time’. To make the list the albums had to be pretty obscure, packed from start to finish with top notch tunes and (as far as I know) not regularly parped on about by music journos ad infinitum. Each album gets a paragraph of love and anyone reading this should at least drop a couple of their recommendations in the comments below. Here’s the Top Ten (chronologically):

Lindisfarne Nicely Out Of Tune (1970)
My wife, Rachel introduced me to this amazing album and it’s truly a joy from start to finish. It came a year or two before their big Fog On The Tyne hit and is packed to the rafters with beautiful songwriting and vocal harmonies that have me regularly labelling them, ‘the Geordie CSN&Y‘. Album opener, Lady Eleanor, was actually a reissued number 3 hit in the UK, but rather randomly it came two years after the album was released (off the back of Fog On The Tyne‘s success). There’s even an amusing little Beatles piss-take in the shape of, Alan in the River With Flowers. It’s a British classic that never seems to be reappraised or get the attention it truly deserves – except in our car (it gets battered in there)! Since first hearing the album around four or five years ago I’ve since started delving into lead songwriter Alan Hull‘s back catalogue. His first two albums, Pipedream and Squire are particularly great. You know you’re dealing with a top album when it gets you delving into the back catalogues, hunting for more brilliance.

Linda Perhacs Parallelograms (1970)
Over the past couple of decades lots of British folk singers from the 70’s have had their work brought back under the spotlight and been lauded. Nick Drake, John Martyn, Sandy Denny, Bert Jansch, Roy Harper and Vashti Bunyan have regularly had albums reissued and had documentaries made about their lives and music. One singer whose not really been talked about quite so much though is American singer, Linda Perhacs. Some readers may know the title track of the album as it occassionally appears on obscure psych-folk playlists, but the whole album is awash with lovely, trippy, sweetly sung folk songs that are absolutely perfect late night chill-out fodder for those looking for something a little bit different. There’s a gorgeous fragility to many of her songs too, the kind of wide-eyed floatiness that evokes comparisons to Nick Drake and early Joni Mitchell. More often than not you stumble across a relatively obscure tune from way back, only to delve into the album the tune is from and come away disappointed. Not with Parallelograms.

Eugene McDaniels Outlaw (1970)
I stumbled across Eugene McDaniels via Who Sampled and three hip-hop tracks he’s been featured on (Beastie Boys‘, Get It Together, DJ Shadow‘s, Entropy and A Tribe Called Quest‘s, Bonita Applebum) and fell in love with Outlaw the moment I heard it. There’s really nothing like it as it not only genre hops across the album with swathes of jazz, funk, soul, psychedelia, rock and folk splashed across it – sometimes it pulls in three or four styles in one tune. Recording as Gene McDaniels is the sixties he had a number of big soul hits like, A Hundred Pounds Of Clay (which was banned by the BBC in 1961 for, rather bizarelly, blasphemy), A Tear and Tower Of Strength. Everything changed in 1969 when he fully embraced black consciousness and socio-political songwriting. The political and outsider-ist commentary that flows through Outlaw‘s lyrics initially had me drawing comparisons with Gil Scott Heron and some of the gentler songs remind me of Jimi Hendrix ballads like Wind Cries Mary and Little Wing. Decent touchstones, I’m sure you’ll agree! Outlaw‘s follow up, Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse is another gem and is considered a psychedelic soul-funk cult classic.

Randy Pie Randy Pie (1974)
I first heard the funk-rock, krautrock-esque sounds of Randy Pie at a mate’s house in the mid 90’s. My friend had a live album of theirs from 1974 in amongst a truly obscure and frighteningly random collection of vinyl. We spent quite a few nights absolutely hammered, playing it again and again at different speeds. We were either completely twatted or to this day it’s the only album I’ve truly loved at both turntable speeds. Anyway, a few years back I went hunting for more Randy Pie as a kind of magical reminiscence tour and came across their debut self-titled LP. What a find it was. The whole album has a funky and occassionally ‘jazz meets krautrock‘ feel that paints a massive smile on my face everytime I hear it, it’s such a shame it’s never found a wider audience. It’s a stunning album, and I have a theory why hardly anyone’s ever heard it… they decided to call themselves, Randy Pie. I love the bravery of that name choice but it definitely sounds like a comedy bluegrass singer who combines knob and pastry gags to a ukelele soundtrack. Which is niche to say the least.

WHY? Oaklandazulasylum (2003)
In the mid Noughties I worked a number of crap jobs and found myself commuting places with lots of time on my hands. Around this time I stumbled across a handful of albums that I absolutely love to this day. I spent weekends buying random CDs, many of which were awful, but I found a few gems in amongst the mistakes. One of these gems was the second solo album by alternative American hip hop artist, Why? (aka Jonathan “Yoni” Wolf). Why? is a member of cLOUDDEAD, a bizarre group of rappers from the Anticon label who often sound like they’re rapping on helium over beats that have tumbled out of alien spacecrafts. Oaklandazulasylum took that bizarre (and occassionally unlistenable) approach to hip-hop and gave it a bit more focus without losing any of the surreal otherworldliness. There are guitars, drum machines that drag and then shuffle, bizarre oddball lyrics, gurgling synths and binding it all together the nasal twang and off-kilter lyricism of Why? Granted, it’s definitely a marmite album, in the same way stuff by Ween, Primus and Frank Zappa tends to divide. But it’s unique and in my eyes the only quirky, oddball, Anticon ‘hip-hop’ album that’s truly great from start to finish.

Tes X2 (2003)
Alongside Oaklandazulasylum comes the debut album by Brooklyn rapper, Tes. Both were released in 2003 and I bought them on the same weekend in 2004, without knowing much about either. X2 has a real New York sound to it. There are the geographical name checks and something about it that’s so evocative it had me recalling my early 90’s New York visit – Central Park, the smell of hot dogs and pretzels, the kaleidoscope of baseball caps and brightly coloured sweatshirts, the hustle and the bustle on every corner. With links to Brooklyn underground hip hop acts like Vast Aire, Afra, LoDeck and DJ Ese, there’s actually very little stuff on the internet about him, bar a tiny Wiki page and a bizarre (but very favourable) review of this album by Pitchfork. There’s the odd whiff of MF Doom in some of the album’s production, and the odd echo of artists like Company Flow and Aesop Rock in the avoidance of huge hooks and hip-hop frippery. At times there’s even little nods to the Beastie Boys and a playful coolness that never tires – I regularly return to it 15 years on.

Future Of The Left Curses (2007)
I’ve never been huge on music you could loosely describe as ‘angry’. Black Sabbath aside, I never really went through a metal phase, hardcore never interested me and neither did the rougher edges of punk (I prefer new wave and post-punk really). But every once in awhile a band appears out of nowhere and kicks me out of all that. Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam all did in the 90’s, but it wasn’t until I discovered McLusky (via the late, great John Peel’s radio show) and then Future Of The Left in the early 00’s that I got ‘rebooted’. The best way I’ve found to describe Cardiff’s Future Of The Left is as a more scabrous, noise-rock Half Man Half Biscuit. It’s a simplistic analogy, but it kind of works. FOTL frontman, Andy Falkous is one of my favourite lyricists of the past 20 years. He’s got a truly unique and darkly comic view on the world around him. Some songs on Curses are so funny and odd they’re what I call ‘tea-spitters’. If you like ‘angry’ music that makes you laugh and smirk, then this is the LP you’re looking for.

Voice Of The Seven Woods Voice Of The Seven Woods (2007)
I have a few musician friends who can do the whole fast plucking guitar thing and it forever impresses me. Add amazing tunes into the mix and I’m smitten. There’s something mystical about the simple guitar. I first discovered Voice Of The Seven Woods (aka Bolton’s Rick Tomlinson) via a friend’s recommendation and I was hooked. The album mixes folk with a splash of prog to create the kind of sound that’s both mystic and filled with curious hooks and melodies. It had such an effect on me I started listening to a lot more guitar based instrumental music from the likes of John Fahey, Bert Jansch and Jim O’Rourke, which then led onto bits of post-rock and even select cuts of proggy jazz from the mid 70’s. Tomlinson’s music following this album morphed into Voice Of The Seven Thunders, which brought a more expansive and rockier sound to proceedings, but it’s this first collection that has me frequently returning for more and always finding new little bits I fawn over and get lost in.

Grampall Jookabox Ropechain (2008)
I go through phases of revisiting old music and just desperately hunting and searching for new stuff. I read lots of music blogs and still buy the odd magazine, and I discovered Ropechain via the latter. I was in for a long train journey sometime in late 2008 so I picked up a copy of either Mojo or Uncut to read and the first bit I read was an interview with David Byrne. He loves all kinds of different music, often obscure World music and avant garde stuff, and since 1988 he’s had his own record label, Luaka Bop. Anyway, he always seems to have pretty decent taste and one the artists he was raving about was a little known act from Indiana called, Grampall Jookabox (now recording as just Jookabox). The act was named after a child trying to say ‘Grandpa Jukebox‘ and is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist, David “Moose” Adamson. Ropechain is like a cross between Pure Guava era, Ween and a drum machine accompanied one man hoedown in a lo-fi studio barn littered with mushrooms and nitrous oxide. But a bit tighter and hookier than that ramshackled analogy may suggest. The track that I played to death and even got my Dad into was, ‘The Girl Aint Preggars‘ a silly foot stomper that makes us both think of my old man’s scouse roots and always brings a singalong and a titter. The whole album is a lovely, weird little curiosity.

The Accidental There Were Wolves (2008)
In the mid 00’s I got into a band called Tunng. I love their mix of folk and electronica, and they seem to have an enigmatic quality to their songs without being aloof or avant garde. In 2008, one of the band’s founders, Sam Genders put together a side-project called, The Accidental with members of The Memory Band and The Bicyicle Thieves. The resulting album, There Were Wolves, strips back the electronica elements of Tunng and has a slightly more rustic, late night sound to it. I think of it as the perfect kind of campfire album and whilst it got lots of favourable reviews when it was released I don’t think very many people have heard it. It’s certainly the kind of album fans of Sufjan Stevens, Devendra Banhart and Iron & Wine would love. Incidentally, the other founder of Tunng, Mike Lindsay, has recently formed his own side-project, LUMP with Laura Marling, and they have a new self-tiled album out as of last month (it too is very good) – and not only that, Tunng have returned this month with a new album and have just issued Autumn tour dates.

So that’s Slacker Shack‘s, ‘Ten Most Underappreciated Albums Of All Time’ list. Hyperbole aside, what hugely underappreciated albums would make your list?

The 10 best rock tunes featuring the cowbell

Posted in Lists, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2018 by dc


Whenever any musician yells, “MORE COWBELL!” in a studio, you know there’s a lot of fun being had. Its metallic rattle just adds that added bit of earthiness and clanking joy that nothing else can really match (not even a tablespoon in a family sized tin of baked beans).

The obvious usage of the cowbell seems to appear in rollicking good Americana stompers like the Kings of Leon‘s, ‘Red Morning Light‘ and Creedance Clearwater Revival‘s, ‘Born On The Bayou‘. The rhythmic clanks add a real ‘good time’ vibe to both those tracks, but there’s more to this top ten than just thumping Americana. There’s the slacker rock oddness of Guided By Voices‘, ‘Rhine Jive Click‘, Lou Reed‘s scathing and swaggering, ‘Vicious‘ and the over played but still uber-cool, ‘Low Rider‘ by War.

Without further ado, here’s my ‘MORE COWBELL’ top ten:

War Low Rider
Lou Reed Vicious
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band Abba Zabba
Talking Heads Once In A Lifetime
Blue Oyster Cult (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
The WhoMagic Bus
Guided By VoicesRhine Jive Click
Kings Of LeonRed Morning Light
Creedance Clearwater RevivalBorn On The Bayou
NazarethHair Of The Dog

So that’s the Slacker Shack‘s ‘cowbell rock’ top ten. As always, there’s some arguments to be had. What have I missed?

Vote Micky P Kerr on Britains Got Talent

Posted in Comedy, Funny, Music, TV with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2018 by dc

Later on tonight (at 7.30pm on ITV) the 2018 live final of Britain’s Got Talent takes place. I’m not an avid viewer of TV talent shows and their ilk usually, but this year it’s a bit different. My mate Micky P Kerr has made the final and he’s one the funniest and most lovable fellas I’ve met. Over the last few years he’s been working he’s arse off on the comedy circuit and it’s paid off – his act is now tighter than a nun’s chuff and infinitely more appealing!

For those of you reading this who may not have caught his ‘turns’ on BGT the past couple of weeks, here’s a couple of clips of the Yorkshire funny man in action:

A few years back I was lucky enough to design a few single and album covers for Micky. I created a little cartoon version of him, all shaggy haired and tired eyed. Just as lovable as the man himself – have a a peek below and VOTE MICKY in tomorrow night’s final!




The 10 best rock tunes featuring the saxophone

Posted in Lists, Music, Pop Culture with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2018 by dc

Mention rock music and saxophones in the same sentence and some music fans will snort, roll their eyes and quite possibly flounce away from the conversation dramatically, never to return. These folk are probably still haunted by the revelation that that Blockbusters‘, Bob Holness didn’t play the sax solo on Gerry Rafferty‘s ‘Baker Street’. Or maybe they get flashbacks of Tim Capello‘s ludicrously oiled and muscley torso belting out sax bursts near the start of Joel Schumacher‘s Lost Boys – or Kenny G‘s permed mullet bobbing up and down on Top Of The Pops in the late 80’s.


Whatever the reason, the saxophone maybe much maligned in rock music, but I bloody love it. There’s something about that wild, raspy, sexy sound that tickles the funk in me. Not in a cheesy, run me a bath and get out the scented candles type of way, it’s more earthy and guttural than a thousand slow jam solos would con you into thinking.

Anyway, as part of Slacker Shack‘s ‘Niche Best Of… Lists‘ series, I’ve put together my ten favourite ‘SAXy Time’ rock tunes list – and I’ve even gone and Spotify-ed it too. Check out my choices below and argue with me in the comments:

Pink FloydMoney
Lou Reed Walk On The Wild Side
Brian ProtheroePinball
David BowieYoung Americans
The Doors Touch Me
The Rolling Stones Brown Sugar
Roxy Music Do The Strand
Electric SixDanger! High Voltage
BeckThe New Pollution
Radiohead The National Anthem