Archive for cate le bon

Slacker Shack’s Top Ten Albums of 2016

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2016 by dc

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As I get older and busier, I feel it is only right I take things a bit easier and just pick ten favourite albums this year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a great year for music, it’s just that ten seems a bit less daunting than the usual twenty as I sit here arguing with myself.

2016 saw the return of hip hop legends A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul and great new albums from Slacker Shack favourites like Bon Iver, Future Of The Left, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Danny Brown, Aesop Rock and Cate Le Bon. All on fine, fine form.

As far as new artists go nothing’s cracked my top 10. There’s been loads of great music from debutants like Swedish producer sir Was (who’s sound is intriguingly described by his label, “as though D’Angelo and Prince threw David Crosby into the studio with Tame Impala and Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis”), 4AD’s latest quality find, Pixx, Toronto indie-rockers, Weaves and The Magnetic North with their excellent concept album, Prospect Of Skelmersdale. But nothing that quite squeezed in.

So, my top ten. I like to think it’s a vaguely eclectic mix (variety is the spice of life and all that). Firstly, there are brilliant sophomore releases from Morgan Delt (Phase Zero) and D.D Dumbo (Utopia Defeated). The former is a truly joyous album, all psychedelic curiosity and playfulness – a retroist summer of love album that gurgles and floats without ever seeming kitschy or forced.

Two British albums make the cut. Cate Le Bon returned with Crab Day, and I had the pleasure of seeing her live earlier in the year in Manchester. The album is a heady mix of Magic Band jerkiness, Kate Bush meets Nico wonderment and gloriously skew-whiff melodies, and I’ve had it on heavy rotation for months. The second British pick is The Future Of The Left’s latest, The Peace & Truce of Future of the Left. Lead Leftie, Andrew Falkous remains not only one of my favourite current lyricists but one of the best of the past 15 years. A sardonic wit underpinned by a chugging post hardcore malevolence, his band’s latest album, might not quite reach the dizzying heights of a couple of it’s predecessors, but it’s a fascinating and humorous growl of a record nonetheless.

As far as rock music goes the real stand out album this year was King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s psych-rock chug-a-thon, Nonagon Infinity. I’ve loved their last three albums (particularly last year’s Paper Mâché Dream Balloon), but Nonagon Infinity just turns the amps up to 11 from the off and stays there.

2016 been a good year for hip hop too. Albums by Kool Keith, De La Soul, Pusha T, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson Paak, DJ Shadow, Open Mike Eagle, clipping. and London’s very own, Skepta, were all whiskers away from my top ten. Three albums did make it onto the shortlist though.

Firstly, Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition – an album that widens his sound palette further, pulling in everything from trap to free jazz, and from grime to dubstep – all of it smothered in Brown’s nasty rasp and hyperactive flow.

My next pick is the latest album from one of my favourite rappers of the past fifteen years, Aesop Rock. The Impossible Kid is probably Aesop’s most accessible album to date without losing any of the verbal dexterity and poetic wordplay that have graced his previous albums. This time though there’s less abstract thought and surrealism and something all together more autobiographical.

My final hip hop choice is A Tribe Called Quest’s glorious return, We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. With the untimely death of founding member, Phife Dawg, the album was always going to come with a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye, but what gets you is the overwhelming joy of it all from start to finish. The people making this album clearly loved being involved, everyone just bounces and buzzes off each other and it acts as a mighty epitaph to Phife.

Penultimately, one album I’ve only really found and got into over the past month is Nicolas Jaar’s, Sirens. It’s a fairly sprawling affair but after a few listens it becomes a wide-eyed and cinematic landscape of an album. Cherry picking all kinds of influences it’s held together with a kind of electro-jazz wizardry. It thrills both the beard stroker and foot tapper in me simultaneously. Given a few more months of frequent listens and it might even have grabbed Slacker Shack’s coveted (pfft) top spot!

So, onto the winner – Bon Iver’s 22, A Million Slacker Shack’s album of the 2016. It was a far odder album than I expected. Something more experimental and abstract than I’d envisaged and in many ways it’s a beautiful album of opposites and gentle curveballs. Justin Vernon’s lyric’s are oblique and obtuse but there are pockets of tender, personal snapshots and warmth. Vernon even manages to make his heavily processed vocals sound touching and soulful like an alien Neil Young. Some reviewers have compared it in spirit to Radiohead’s Kid A and I can see the comparisons. Both have an electronic, experimental and alien approach but both have a real soulfulness and soft underbelly too. At times I’ve listened to 22, A Million on repeat, getting gently hypnotised by it all and lost in all the strange glitches and gurgles. I love it.

Bon Iver – 22, A Million

Nicolas Jaar – Sirens

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your service

Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid

Morgan Delt – Phase Zero

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity

Cate Le Bon – Crab Day

Future Of The Left – The Peace & Truce of Future of the Left

Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition              

D.D Dumbo – Utopia Defeated

Cate Le Bon announces UK tour dates

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2013 by dc

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Welsh singer-songwriter, Cate Le Bon released her third album, Mug Museum last week. It’s a beautiful album with lots of different influences bubbling up – the melancholic vocals with faint echoes of Nico, the playful psychedelic touches that recall some of Kevin Ayers best work, the gently off-kilter approach to songwriting that tips a hat to fellow Welsh artists like Gruff Rhys, Euros Childs and John Cale. The magic lies in the way she transcends her influences though – Mug Museum is a triumph, thrillingly accomplished, soulful and up there as one of my favourite albums of the year.

Check out the new video for Mug Museum track, Are You With Me Now? below:

And if you fancy seeing Cate Le Bon live, check out her newly released tour dates below:

07 Feb ’14 – Islington Assembly Hall, London
08 Feb ’14 – The Gate, Cardiff
10 Feb ’14 – Junction 2, Cambridge
11 Feb ’14 – Leaf Cafe, Liverpool
12 Feb ’14 – Broadcast, Glasgow
13 Feb ’14 – The Sage, Gateshead
15 Feb ’14 – The Deaf Institute, Manchester
16 Feb ’14 – The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

New Cate Le Bon album out next month

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2013 by dc

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With last year’s Cyrk album and Cyrk II EP, Cate Le Bon continued the fine tradition of Welsh psychedelia. Positioned somewhere between the gloriously wide-eyed shenanigans of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynki and the solo work of the Super Furry AnimalsGruff Rhys, Cyrk and Cyrk II were unmintigated successes even if they didn’t set the world alight sales wise.

Described by Gruff Rhys as “Bobbie Gentry and Nico fight over a Casio keyboard”, Le Bon’s melancholic lyrics belie her fascination with beautifully quirky arrangements and cheery melodies. Her music’s a contradictory breath of fresh air.

Hopefully her forthcoming Mug Museum album will see here gain a bigger following. Lead single, I Think I Knew, a duet with Perfume Genius (aka Seattle based singer-songwriter, Mike Hadeas) is a lovely introduction to Le Bon‘s cosy, Nico-esque melancholia – check it out below:

Mug Museum is released on the 11th November.

Cate Le Bon channels mid-nineties Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by dc

I miss mid-90’s Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. They skirted delightfully close to whimsy, but never too close. They were magical without being fey. Psychedelic without being indulgent. And cheeky without being annoying. They tightrope walked across numerous pitfalls but elegantly kept their balance.

So, I was overjoyed tonight when I heard a new tune from fellow Welsh songstress, Cate Le Bon today. It’s called What Is Worse and it’s a beautiful Gorky’s-esque stumble-ballad. I love it – check it out yourself below:

Semi-Mentor Gruff Rhys describes Le Bon thusly, “Bobbie Gentry and Nico fight over a Casio keyboard; melody wins!” – nice.

I really liked Cate Le Bon’s Cyrk when it was released back in April but I’ve not heard her follow up (5 track) EP Cyrk 2 yet (it’s just been released I think) – that’s going to change pretty sharpish.