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Late Listens: Primal Scream-Screamadelica (1991)

                                    Click Here for Happiness

Word doesn’t think that Screamadelica is a word and it is correct in not counting it as such, what it actually is, is one of the best musical experiences known to humankind. Sober or not I assume.

Like myself I am sure that if you have not listened/yet to listen to this album you will certainly recognise its cover, the now iconic blue bodied Sun, the big googly eyes, yellow outline against the red background. Looking like it was drawn by a toddler with all its charm would certainly sell for a lot in today’s Art market, seeing at is genuinely better than some ‘Modern Art’ that sell for ridiculous amounts. It helps that this image is connected to the record that it would add value. I am guessing that someone has/would purchase it for a hefty amount of cash and who could blame them.

Onto the main purpose of a record, the sounds that are trapped within it waiting to be released by someone pressing that triangular magical Play Button. Oh when you do! The joy it brings!

Movin’ On Up starts the whole thing off infusing acoustic guitar slide lead with gospel vocals giving everyone a feel good chorus to sing along to. It is more inline with the bands rockier side that they seem to go to often before and after this record e.g. Rocks, Country Girl and Can’t Go Back.

Slip Inside This House is where it really starts to explore the acid house/Madchester vibes. The reason why the change in sound happened was because Bobby Gillespie and Jim Beattie moved from Glasgow where the band originally formed down to Manchester. Now in what some people call the capital of the North in the early 1990s Gillespie inevitably went to the legendary Hacienda night club, took some acid and saw the Happy Mondays perform. The evening’s events would change his life forever. Slip Inside this House (originally recorded by 13th Floor Elevators on the Easter Everywhere album in 1967) is the perfect cover because it is completely different; seriously you would not guess it is the same song if you did not know the lyrics, look it up or you are a big fan of the 13th Floor Elevators (I am becoming one).  Psychodelia is a connection to the original but here it’s the modern 90s type of psychedelic with acid house/rave mixed in for good measure.  The bass is infectious in fact every element is and there is a particular emphasise on the TRIP in the title. Don’t Fight It, Feel It has a party feel to it but one that takes place on the sunniest of islands it features vocals from Denise Johnson again mixing genres perfectly.                    

Higher Than the Sun is one of the best songs ever. If you don’t think that you obviously have yet to listen to it, plus it also boasts the accolade of being the most laid back track as well. Obviously there is no hiding the subject matter of the trip the song takes you on (DRUGS!) soothes and makes you forget about all the troubles of your life. Music is also a great drug in many ways Higher Than the Sun’s proof of that. The calming almost nonchalant attitude backed by the gradual building music/ambience as it goes along truly are transformative, taking one to a place of pure tranquillity.

Loaded and Come Together are by far the most recognised songs from Screamadelica what they offer are the wonders of how effective sampling can be. Loaded uses the now extremely famous lines from the movie The Wild Angles (1966) plus further research shows that almost everything is sampled (it was a large part of the whole record). Another reason to admire it as they have took elements from others and made something new, it’s beautiful.  Come Together is a great message of togetherness that needs to be reinforced in today’s climate, also exclaiming that ‘Music Is Just Music’ taken from of a speech given by Jesse Jackson at the Wattstax concert in 1972. At 10:22 it is the lengthiest song but every second is sumptuous.        

Screamadelica is a prime example of why music is wonderful and precious to so many people the place it takes you is one of true pleasure. The album is heralded as a classic by many, many fans, music lovers and critics alike I also resonate with them after giving it the time it deserves. No other word can be used to describe it. You won’t want to come down from this one.

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Jay Som – Intimate Pop Brilliance (Composed in Her Bedroom!)

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                                      Jay Som’s Bandcamp Where You Can Listen to the Entire Discography

Jay Som (performing name) A.K.A Melina Duterte is the quickly rising artist based out of Oakland, California originating from the city of Brentwood , CA. Who has just released her first official debut record, Everybody Works via Polyvinyl (a label that has some great bands alongside Jay Som e.g. PWR BTTM and Ladyhawke).

I shall get into Everybody Works in a moment because there are a number of singles (7) and one collection of and I quote, “unfinished and finished songs” together making Turn IntoDating back from January 2012 named See You, Later, 2014’s forget about it kid through to this year’s album. Quick note it is all made by Duterte in her bedroom and it sounds just as good if not better than some artists on a bigger budget whom use recording studios. Add that to her skills in playing multiple instruments, self production and composition Som’s CV is already pretty loaded.   

Up until I Think Your Alright/Rush the songs are all in the same ball park but when Rush came along with its Hawaiian breeze like movements, the upbeat guitar then towards the end that fuzz that is apparent in most of her music enters, it was a sign of what Jay Som could do but also what she wanted to do. It is a very uplifting track that certainly paths the way to what was to come.  

After that the collection of songs that make up Turn Into (recorded from March 2o14 to October 2015) was released. However unlike the singles that came directly before it, it is darker because it came out of a time where Duterte was in a bad place. But greyness is not the only colour on it, subtle yellows, purples and greens do show mainly through the uses of guitar lines and vocals brightening the real, relatable and shadowy lyrics.

‘Are you afraid?
I’m not ashamed to feel this way,
You always say “a father would never leave his kids, he’d stay”
But I’m afraid,
You’re breathing in but you’ve been dead the whole time,
I’m looking in,
Am I too late to see you in the light?’

The above lyrics are from the second track Ghost by just reading those words plus the title you may come to the assumption that it is all grey and my statement is false. Upon hearing the single there is a pop quality in there. SLOW again radiates with beautiful colour through the ‘ahh, ahhh, ahh, ahh, ahhhhs’ mixed with the jangly tones, positive mid-paced drums. What Dream Pop is started to make more sense the more I gave it a listen.

Everybody Works if you can believe it was made in the same room as Turn Into but the rawness left, the DIY production took a step up. Now it genuinely sounds like it was made in the best studio money can buy. Resulting in a delightful record that does not only contain some great pop hits but also some funk, plus a slower side is also shown. Never has the phrase ‘a breath of fresh air’ been more fitting. An orchestral soft rising number opens the record named Lipstick Stains it is short, being it all it needs to do, but letting the listener know that the following 33 minutes is going to be a divers adventure.

The lead single The Bus Song has lyrics that again one can relate in places but as ever are purposefully vague. A conscious decision in all of Duterte’s writing leading to a number of standout moments one of those is a verse from The Bus Song,

‘Are Secrets Still a Thing, Are Secrets Still a Thing,
In The Land of Make Believe,
You Can Hide but Can’t Deceive,
I Can’t Tell You Anything, I Can’t Tell You Anything’

Not only is it a great verse but can be interpreted as an observation of modern society’s inability to keep secrets due to Facebook and the media (I am defiantly reading too much into that).

Everybody Works the title track came from the view that a lot of people have of the profession of being a musician which obviously means you are lazy and you should get a ‘real job’ but music like all jobs has worth. But the way I read into the meaning of the song and think that is also something that’s being pointed out is the message why try and be something else other than yourself. Hence Everybody Works.

One More Time, Please is somewhat the wrong title as after hearing it you’ll want to hear it more than just one more time. It is funky with a groovy lick plus a hell of a guitar solo which should make it onto an epic solo list of 2017. It is completely the opposite to the on 1 Billion Dogs which is really jarring.

After a good amount of time listening to Jay Som I still am unsure what Dream Pop is, or if she should be put in that genre. As the music has evolved into many different sounds all of them fantastic and Turn Into plus Everybody Works are outstanding records. It is even more impressive that she plays all/most of the instruments herself and it is all recorded in her bedroom! The hard work, dedication and truly good music that is a product of that should be listened to by all. Jay Som/Melina Duterte is a inspiration for everyone to follow, and her music works.

 

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Portishead’s Dummy = Perfection.

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                                                                      Dummy

This concoction of dark electronic/trip hop (a genre that was a product of this album) that has moulded into a monument that has stood tall ever since its release on the 22nd of August, 1994.

Before I get into the album I have to tell you a quick story that explains how much I love this album. The year was 2013 I was a fresh faced first year University student sorting through the records at my student radio. There were many great records in there but I across across Dummy and knowing how good it is went to play it so that I and the other people with me (some who had not heard it yet). Wandering over to the vinyl player I take it out of its sleeve… Calamity! It is in pieces. Heartbroken I stumble for words attempting to communicate my grief but was unable to. I took five and went back to sorting the vinyl. But it was that day I vowed to purchase the record on vinyl for myself, until then I had many nightmares reliving that disappointing moment. I later purchased the 20th anniversary edition (2014) in Edinburgh and it is a beautiful blue vinyl.

Since finding this record back in my late high school years (2009/10) ever since then I have held it in very high acclaim. It was and still is so very unique with the way in which it melds the samples, low-fi electronic synths which are often analogue, making their sound one of the most authentic out there, with the talent of Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons and Adrian Utley.

Much of the focus is put on singer Gibbons as she holds one of the most distinctive voices in music; it is a big reason why they stand out but not the sole reason. It is its relationship with the music that Utley and Barrow make. Music that captivates listeners with atmospheric, trippy soundscapes nothing like they had heard before. A phenomenon that still holds true today for anyone who finds it for the first time.

Glory Box is the one of the most famous from the band and the quality it shows is just as high on every single track that makes Dummy. Only a handful of albums can boast that same accolade. This also means that there is not much point in picking out certain tracks to listen to over the others. But some that I have been listening to more frequently recently are Biscuit which works in some superb vocals that are sampled from ‘I’ll Never Fall I Love Again’ by Johnnie Ray to work with Gibbons’ excellence. Also on my first exploration I did take a particular liking to Strangers with the distant funk guitar and interesting lyrics, broken drum sounds plus the sample from Weather Report’s Elegant People. Wandering StarWandering Star is another though I do not have an explanation why I just did. It is even a emotional album too with the Sour Times and  Roads being two of the most harrowing tracks in existence. The music an onomatopoeic expression for the sadder sides of life, we all know that music that focuses on that is needed.

Dummy is not only a seminal record of 1994, or even the 1990’s but of the popular music era.

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