Monday, 31 August 2009

Spotlight On: Blind Blake and Lecube

“There is no bank on Wall Street that belonged to me..” croons Blind Blake, aka Matthew Town, the legendary singer from the Bahamas who was born in 1915 and carved out an illustrious if a little under-recognised career from the 30s through to the 60s. As the leader of the house band at the Royal Victoria Hotel in Nassau in the Bahamas his music combines the glory of ragtime blues, island classics and American pop with some quite forward-thinking jazz elements. Listening to Bahamian Songs is one of those truly positive experiences that can change an mood and get even the clumsiest of toes twinkling. Credit must also been given to the technical elements of this record which, on CD, sounds crystal clear and surprisingly for a record from the early 50s has very little hiss and crackle (not always a good thing I hasten to add but a pleasure here). Highlights include the effortless fun Yes, Yes, Yes, his particularly familiar John B Sail (sloop would be proud) and My Pigeon Got Wild show the skill the man had on his banjo, ukulele or six-string to create a rhythm and style that would entertain contemporary audiences and generations to come. A must have if you like both music and smiling.

It would be unfair to describe Frenchman Julien ‘Lecube’ Barbagallo, architect of his debut From Here to Now, as fey but there’s a certain otherworldliness to the breathy, sidling pace of the record. Recorded in Toulouse, this eight-track offering shows some definite promise with Barbagallo presenting at times incredibly very intricate songs in a simple fashion – breaking down from tumultuous drumming into the kind of carefully plucked guitar-work which led Nick Drake to the forefront of those talented yet mellow musicians who preferred to shun any egocentric qualities in favour of an educated sound. That said, he does whack himself on the cover and grate a little vocally but on the whole, definitely worth a hop over the channel.

Monday, 24 August 2009

ShadowPlay// Broken Yolk fledgling podcast

ShadowPlay teams up with Teddy Bones, aka long-time SP contributor and fiend on the ones and twos, Tom Bonnett (pictured right) for an early precursor to a long-time partnership. This episode we introduce top monthly Stoke Newington night Broken Yolk, conducting some pointed ramblings about music consumption (including the mysteries of spotify) and featuring some aural delights in the form of Lord Tanamo, Acoustic Ladyland and a certain familiar reggae face.

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Sunday, 23 August 2009

Bent: Best Of

Nottingham lads Neil "Nail" Tolliday and Simon Mills will always have a special place in ShadowPlay hearts not only for their origins in the fair Midlands but also for their debut, Programmed to Love, which was probably the best record the city has produced and certainly the most impressive in the field of cleverly-worked electronica. Accomplished DJs and superb musicians, Bent are due a Best Of and, having always kept  a fairly low-key profile, it is nicely packaged as an introduction to the duo. Far from a flung together collection of their tunes, there’s a flow and control over this record which belies its status as a compilation – spreading the band’s work across two CDs.

The seven new songs here also serve to remind listeners that Bent are still fresh, coming up with a number of up-tempo, quite guitar led tunes to intersperse old favourites. But, in the end, long time listeners will enjoy a reprisal, Private Life and Magic Love still causing a tingle. Bent are a band who have often been under appreciated, their legacy starts here.