Author: Matthew Barlow

Iggy Pop & Underworld: Teatime Dub Encounters ep

Iggy Pop & Underworld Teatime Dub Encounters ep Caroline International Back in 1996, Iggy’s ‘Lust for Life’ opened up the absolutely brilliant Trainspotting soundtrack, whilst the other book end was occupied by Underworld’s amazing ‘Born Slippy NUXX.’ It wouldn’t be an understatement to declare that that track set Underworld on a new course, both musically and in terms of fame, especially in North America.  And there they were again on Trainspotting 2‘s soundtrack last year.  Teatime Dub Encounters literally arises from tea time, and a chance encounter between Underworld’s Rick Smith and Carl Hyde and Pop in London. Recorded in the wake of both Underworld’s (criminally under-rated) last album, Barbara, Barbara, we face a shining future and Pop’s Post Pop Depression, this ep seems more a means to work out a few more ideas than a full-on collab.  Musically, this plays to Underworld’s sound, ethereal sounds, big beats, and occasional big sounds.  Hyde’s voice, though, is reduced to the background, which is kind of unfortunate as he is as much Underworld as Smith’s beats.  As for Pop, he is larger than life.  Because he’s Iggy Fucking Pop. Over four tracks, Pop alternates from singing and speaking, sounding at times like he did with the Stooges 40-some-odd years ago and sometimes like the septugenarian he is.  But he’s still Iggy Pop.  The first track, ‘Bells & Circles,’ is classic Underworld, all menace and beats, but Pop takes...

Read More

Noah Smith — Long Cut

Noah Smith Long Run Gargonia Records Something interesting is happening in country/American music of late.  Artists like Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson have clearly and purposely turned their backs on the Nashville industry, focusing on songcraft and story-telling.  Those two are the leaders of a new kind of outlaw country, minus, of course, the ultimate bad-assery of the likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and company.  My problem with this is I can no longer declare that I love all forms of music, but country.  And into this new country tradition comes Brown County, OH’s Noah Smith. Smith is drawn to the narrative, claiming that back in the day of mixtapes, it was always the lyrics that mattered to him.  He also sees his home state as the American melting pot.  Long Run is his first long-player and it bristles with rollicking songs, his clear voice and an energy that is the key component of his live show.  His songs are carefully constructed and he avoids the slickness of the Nashville sound.  His songs are all stories: love, small-town life, and the alienation of trying to go home again. And even if they fall into the tropes familiar to listeners of pop music today, between his musicality and ear for small things in his songs (like buried guitar licks, Edge-like shimmery guitars, cute little fiddle licks) give him both a familiarity and...

Read More

Let’s Eat Grandma — I’m All Ears

Let’s Eat Grandma I’m All Ears Transgressive I love Let’s Eat Grandma’s name.  I love even more that Let’s Eat Grandma are two teenage girls.  First, the name.  It’s a comment on the importance of punctuation, noting the difference between ‘let’s eat Grandma,’ and ‘let’s eat, grandma.’  As an educator, I can tell you, I appreciate it when the younger generation gets it.  The two young women behind the band are Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth.  Walton and Hollingworth are 19 now, and have known each other since kindergarten. Their first album, the absolutely bloody brilliant, I, Gemini, came out in 2016 and was close to the greatest thing in music that year.  It was deep and dark, and twisted.  It also prompted Walton and Hollingworth to purposefully cultivate a public image based on what music critics and journalists read into their music.  This just makes me like them even more. So, two years on, they come back at us withI’m All Ears.  My first go through of this album, I wasn’t all that impressed, I have to admit.  I was listening to teeny-bopper music. But, I went back.  I gave it another chance, which was a smart move.  I’m All Earsis both musically and lyrically more accessible than was I, Gemini.  It’s also more mature.  They note the mundanity of life, but they also challenge gender and femininity, particularly...

Read More

Container — LP

Container LP Spectrum Spools I’ve been digging on Container now for a few years, Ren Schofield, the man behind the name, makes some immediate, in-your-face, pounding electronic music. Schofield is from Providence, RI, but has spent a long time in Nashville, which makes me just like him more. Nashville has a burgeoning, exploding music scene, as anyone can tell you.  But Nashville’s music scene is more attuned to country and roots rock, not techno. There is, of course, a thriving scene in the city, but it’s underground.  Way underground. Schofield is getting clever with LP. This was also the title of his last release, in 2015.  It was brilliant, by the way.  Reviews of that album talked about moshpits and hard-rocking beats, like I was reading reviews of the Crystal Method c. 1997.  That does Schofield a disservice.  He is most certainly not the second coming of the Chrystal Method, nor even of the Chemical Brothers.  He is something else entirely. On 2018’s LP, he ratchets it back just a tiny bit.  There is more melody overtop of the fuzzed out, syncopated beats.  The distortion remains just as heavy.  On some tracks, though, like ‘Peppered,’ he even slows things down a bit to give us a bouncy, loopy and even trippy beat, over which the distorted noises skitter and dance.  But, for the most part, it is the same unrelenting battering. Container are...

Read More

From the Vaults: The Charlatans — Tellin’ Stories

From the Vaults: The Charlatans – Tellin’ Stories The Charlatans have long been one of my favourite bands, if not my outright favourite. Though they’re not from Manchester, they burst onto the scene with the Madchester Sound in the late 80s/early 90s, together with the Happy Mondays, the Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, and the like.  Unlike all those bands, which imploded/broke up/etc., the Charlies have kept on trucking for the past 30 years.  They recently celebrated their 30thanniversary in their hometown of Northwich, hosting the North By Northwich festival. This summer, I was living in an extremely rural area, no cell service, and about a 20 minute drive to find a signal.  The car is where I do my serious music listening; I usually just stream it. Not an option that far in the boondocks.  So I dug up a bunch of CDs and threw them in the car.  But the one that remained in the disc drive (my car model year was the last to have a disc drive) was the Charlatans’ 1997 album, Tellin’ Stories. This album is a moment in time for the band.  Founding member, keyboardist Rob Collins, died in a car accident whilst recording the album in Wales.  But it was also the band’s most successful album, hitting #1 in the charts in the UK and Ireland and yielding 3 Top-10 singles in the UK,...

Read More