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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Pop and rock

‘We did it!’ – behind the decks at Paul Oakenfold’s Stonehenge rave

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Mon 17 Sep 2018 5:15 pm

He’s played Everest and the Great Wall of China. So what happened when Oakenfold set out to become the first person ever to DJ at Stonehenge? Our writer grabs his glow stick and heads for the A303

A Holiday Inn by the A303 is not really the kind of place you would expect to meet Paul Oakenfold. He is, after all, the person who almost singlehandedly invented the latter-day notion of the superstar DJ, and whose 30-year career has warranted not only a mention in the Guinness Book of Records (as “the world’s most successful DJ”) but also a a graphic novel. “This book,” reads the blurb, “charts the windy road taken to fame, fortune and musical nirvana.”

Yet here he is, in a business park just off the windy road taken to Basingstoke, dressed in tracksuit bottoms and exuding a surprising degree of nervousness about his next gig. Later today, he will become the first-ever DJ to play at Stonehenge, as the advance publicity has it. In fact, he almost certainly isn’t – someone must have played records between performances by Hawkwind and Gong at the infamous Stonehenge free festivals in the 1970s and 80s. But, technically, those events took place in fields adjacent to the stones, while Oakenfold is doing his stuff right in front of them.

I’ve been in Ibiza practising, timing music to sunsets. How do I build up into it? How can I touch you emotionally?

The event must look simultaneously spectacular and baffling

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Yves Tumor: Safe in the Hands of Love review – thrilling plunderphonics

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Fri 7 Sep 2018 7:00 am


As this year’s Reading & Leeds lineup showed, kids have extremely catholic tastes as a result of growing up with the radical accessibility of streaming, but musicians themselves still usually cleave to one or two aesthetics. Yves Tumor, though, is thrillingly untethered to style, and as such is a bard for our cultural moment.

Having previously released drifting ambient, clattering experimental trap, lo-fi vintage boogie and more, the secretive Tennessee expat continues to swerve from one mood to the next. Honesty is a driving analogue techno number in the vein of Hieroglyphic Being: arid, punchy 808 claps drive a bleating vocal line from a heartbroken Tumor. Then he handbrake-turns into the superb Noid, a piece of Avalanches-style breakbeat pop that perkily addresses police brutality. Then he reverses back into more lovelorn sadness on Licking an Orchid, this time to a trip-hop shuffle.

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Tracey Thorn, Nadine Shah and Peggy Gou top Aim independent music awards

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Tue 4 Sep 2018 10:00 pm

The awards for the best in British independent music acknowledged a wide-ranging series of names, from Goldie to Idles and Sophie

Tracey Thorn has been awarded the most prestigious prize at the Aim independent music awards, which recognise the best in British music from outside the major label system.

Thorn was presented with the outstanding contribution to music prize, for a career that has featured major chart hits with duo Everything But the Girl, as well as solo work including this year’s album Record. Another award for an entire career’s work, the Pioneer award, was presented to drum’n’bass star Goldie.

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50 great tracks for September from BTS, Marie Davidson, Boygenius and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Mon 3 Sep 2018 10:00 am

From Empress Of’s modern classic to the magnificent angst of Boygenius, here are 50 new tracks you shouldn’t miss – read about our 10 favourites below, and subscribe to the playlists

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Bland on Blonde: why the old rock music canon is finished

Delivered... Michael Hann | Scene | Wed 29 Aug 2018 11:35 am

The 1970s brought about the idea that rock was important – and needed a canon of greatest albums to match. But in a digital age, is definitive musical excellence a ridiculous notion?

Rock’s flight into seriousness in the 1970s had many ill effects. There was prog rock, jamming, not releasing singles – and the idea that the couple of decades since Elvis had produced enough music of sufficient worth to produce a canon. In 1974, like a university English department sending out a reading list to undergraduates, NME polled its writers and published its list of the top 100 albums of all time. The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was No 1, Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde was No 2, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds was No 3 – you could imagine just such a top three being published today.

A few period pieces aside – it’s a long time since Spirit, Frank Zappa, Johnny Winter, Joe Cocker or Country Joe and the Fish featured in a generalist greatest albums list – it set a template for the pop canon that has remained largely untouched for more than 40 years, by adhering to certain rules.

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John Grant: ‘I’m sensitive. I spent a lot of time trying to destroy that’

Delivered... Dave Simpson | Scene | Mon 27 Aug 2018 1:00 pm

The rollercoaster-loving, Chris-Morris-worshipping songwriter is back with more mordantly funny and exquisitely painful songs about nationalism, Chelsea Manning and love

John Grant was born in 1968 in Michigan and raised in Colorado, in a Methodist household that disapproved of his homosexuality. His mother, who died of lung cancer in 1995, called him a “disappointment”. He was a drug addict, the frontman of the Czars and a waiter before releasing three acclaimed solo albums of heartfelt melancholy and exquisitely raw lyrics that resulted in a Brit award nomination in 2014 for best international male solo artist. He says his new album, Love Is Magic, is “more of an amalgamation of who I am” and captures “the absurdity and beauty of life”.

On Love Is Magic, you collaborate with the electronic artist Benge [Ben Edwards, who plays in Wrangler with the former Cabaret Voltaire man Stephen Mallinder]. How did that come about?
I had an amazing time doing the Creep Show album with them last year and we clicked. I felt he could help me realise my vision. When Wrangler opened for me at the Royal Albert Hall, I went on stage to remind everybody that they were seeing British royalty. I wasn’t talking about myself!

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Everybody get up! The dance crazes changing the world

Delivered... Lior Phillips | Scene | Fri 10 Aug 2018 11:00 am

Drake’s In My Feelings is the latest viral sensation to get people moving. And from black culture to queer identity to feminism, the global reach of pop choreography makes it the perfect way to change cultural perceptions

When In My Feelings hit No 1 in the US last month, it meant not only that Drake had racked up more weeks at the top of the chart than any male solo artist in 60 years, it also established the latest in a long history of viral dance crazes.

The trend was kicked off by Instagram comedian Shiggy dancing along to the track, his moves perfectly synced to Drake’s lines: hands shaped into a heart when Drake asks if Kiki loves him; turning an imaginary steering wheel for lyrics about “riding”; waggling his finger back and forth when Drake asks Kiki to say she will never leave his side. Instagram users around the world followed suit, mimicking those moves and adding their own flair, often hopping out of a moving car while doing so, to the horror of the police. The #InMyFeelings challenge was born, making it the latest instance in which pop and dance have proved inseparable.

#Mood : KEKE Do You Love Me ? @champagnepapi #DoTheShiggy #InMyFeelings

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Ben Khan: Ben Khan review – singular coiled-lust electropop

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Fri 10 Aug 2018 10:30 am

Dirty Hit

There’s an appealingly raw, bedroom-recorded quality to this debut album from London producer-singer Ben Khan – if his bedroom had a Narnia-like portal at the back of his wardrobe. Producer Flood (U2, the Killers, PJ Harvey) brings little big-budget gloss, but there’s a singular and rather fantastical vision nonetheless. Sinister John Carpenter synth sounds emerge like neon beams through a hail of dust, but are put to the service of often extremely funky pop.

The magnificent Monsoon Daydream gets so caught up in its own groove it shudders and trips over itself – the dense arrangement, full to the brim with raunchily screwball licks and a flutter of glockenspiel, is reminiscent of early Jamie Lidell, as is Khan’s voice. There’s also a touch of Twin Shadow’s dramatic timbre, while Jai Paul’s still-classic Jasmine heavily scents Ruby. ATW (Against the Wall) has the taut funk and guitar strums of Justin Timberlake’s first tracks with the Neptunes, done lo-fi, and shares their same coiled lust. Indeed, Khan sounds perpetually on the verge of getting laid, with lots of loaded lyrics about honey and tempestuous weather, but he powerfully matches them with the production, which feels as humid as the air before a thunderstorm.

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Tirzah: Devotion review – quiet love stories from DIY R&B enigma

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Thu 9 Aug 2018 12:00 pm

Making magic out of minimal patterns – with the help of old friend and producer Mica Levi – the singer spins alluring stories of intimacy and love

It has not been a vintage year for albums about love. Strenuous efforts by Beyoncé and Jay-Z and Dirty Projectors both had a whiff of protesting too much. With lyrics about his “purple” rubbing against his wife’s “pink”, Justin Timberlake’s lumberjack turn on Man of the Woods functioned like an artisanal, hand-whittled chastity belt. Rapturous declarations of romance feel gauche in calamitous times, and so the few smitten records to stick out in 2018 have had a smaller outlook. If there was anything to unite Kacey Musgraves’ cosmic country opus Golden Hour and the scruffy soul of Hot Chip frontman Alexis Taylor’s Beautiful Thing, it was their shared sense of grateful relief: thank God I don’t have to endure this hellscape alone.

Related: One to watch: Tirzah

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50 great tracks for August from Travis Scott, Robyn, Halestorm and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes | Scene | Tue 7 Aug 2018 10:13 am

From Future’s cry for help to Jlin’s brutally funky footwork, here is the best of the month’s music – read about our 10 favourites and subscribe to all 50 via our playlist

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Helena Hauff: Qualm review – zeitgeist DJ bends techno to her will

Delivered... Lauren Martin | Scene | Fri 3 Aug 2018 9:00 am

(Ninja Tune)

In five years, Helena Hauff has gone from a resident DJ at the sticky, sweaty Hamburg club Golden Pudel to one of the current techno club and festival circuit’s most thunderous selectors – blending acid house, electro, and post-punk into industrial techno, EBM and wiggling downbeat house jams. Her tastes comes not from a lifetime of crate-digging, though – she only started to DJ in her early 20s after buying her first record in 2009, Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden. Without access to a computer or physical music releases at home, Hauff trawled her local library for CDs and listened to the radio, recording what she loved from both on cassette. This approach to musical discovery, largely devoid of context and driven by feeling, allowed her to sketch lines between Stockhausen and the Cure, Belgian cold wave and British synthpop – finding melodies buried inside static and kick-drums, her ear attuned to finding charm within chaos.

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Readers recommend playlist: songs inspired by India

Delivered... George Boyland | Scene | Thu 2 Aug 2018 12:00 pm

Artists taking musical inspiration on our final playlist include the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Monsoon and David Sylvian

The readers recommend series is coming to a close this week. Here are songs on the final topic of India, picked by a reader from hundreds of your suggestions last week. Thanks for taking part – and hear more about the closure of the series at the end of the piece.

This week, Readers recommend has listened closely to the influence Indian music has had on other genres, with some surprising results.

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Scottish Album of the Year: Mogwai and Young Fathers among nominees

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Wed 1 Aug 2018 9:40 pm

The Scottish music industry’s long list recognises 20 contemporary albums

Mogwai, Young Fathers and Franz Ferdinand are among the 20 acts long-listed for this year’s Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) prize. Now in its sixth year, the Scottish alternative to the Mercury prize awards £20,000 to the winning artist, with nine runners-up each receiving £1000.

Related: Safe Mercury shortlist once again raises questions about prize's purpose

Related: 'We like a party!' – why is Scottish pop so potent?

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Pet Shop Boys review – bring on the dancing balloon people

Delivered... Michael Cragg | Scene | Thu 26 Jul 2018 4:21 pm

Royal Opera House, London
Ingenious design helps create an electric atmosphere as the duo celebrate poptimisation at Covent Garden

There’s something of a victory lap atmosphere inside London’s Royal Opera House, for this reprise of the Pet Shop Boys’ Inner Sanctum shows. Just as they did two years ago, the duo – now approaching their fourth decade of applying high-art concepts to pure pop exuberance – have taken up residence for four nights, possibly to facilitate a future DVD release (the final two shows will be filmed by regular collaborator David Barnard). While those 2016 shows marked the start of the Super tour, in support of the high-NRG, house-inflected album of the same name, there’s a feeling of familiarity about tonight.

There’s also sweat, buckets of it. As the deep red curtain, gilded in gold, ascends to reveal the first layer of designer Es Devlin’s eye-popping, multi-faceted set, the heatwave creeps in, temperature raised by dancing bodies, from the moment Chris Lowe triggers opener Inner Sanctum’s buoyant synth riff. “I thought this building was air conditioned!” Neil Tennant huffs later from inside a very unseasonal cropped bomber jacket after a suitably tropical Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is).

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Readers recommend playlist: songs about obsolete things

Delivered... Frank Mastropolo | Scene | Thu 26 Jul 2018 12:00 pm

From Paul Simon’s Kodachrome to Nick Lowe’s Switch Board Susan, a journey back in time

Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from hundreds of your suggestions last week. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.

Once a new product hits the shelf, computer geeks say it’s obsolete and you’d better start thinking what’s next. Happily, that’s never stopped musicians from salting their lyrics with contemporary references that later sound as dated as headbands and glitter. This week’s playlist of obsolete things might be called “music to clean out your garage by”.

Related: Remorseless march of the jukebox - archive, 30 November 1956

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