There has been much lamentation and gnashing of teeth about the decaying music industry, with many opinions and conversations about what to do about it. If you were to believe the soothsayers, we'll be reduced to a generation of SoundCloud demoes and buskers in 10 years' time. We may not know what will come, but it's not worth bemoaning the point. True musicians and record labels, the ones who are in it for the love and the art of the thing, are rolling up their shirtsleeves and getting down to work. Crossing Lines: An NX Records CompilationEnter NX Records, a collaboration between Goldsmith's, University of London's music department and Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records. Students and alumni are actively involved in the release of music, not just as musicians, but also in all aspects, including marketing, legal and administrative. Some recent graduates of the program include Mercury Prize winner James Blake, as well as members of Nigel Godrich's Ultraista, so this is no fly-by-night operation. Crossing Lines is the inaugural transmission. ranging from airy, experimental pop to widescreen anthemic rock, with all points in between, wrapped in a rather spiff map of the New Cross area that NX Records calls home. Crossing Lines manages to sound both classic and hypermodern; super-polished to raw, immediate and lo-fi.

This evening, the spirit of the '60s seems alive and thriving in the Crystal Ballroom. You can sense the remnants of bands like New Riders Of The Purple Sage or The Byrds, as you set foot upon the legendary bouncing dancefloor. It is a grand West Coast ballroom, in the tradition of the Fillmores; there's an epic chandelier, worthy of the Phantom Of The Opera, and Renaissance paintings al fresco on the walls. It's a classy place to see a real rock n' roll show. I don't know what it is about these ballrooms, but they always seem primed to go off. Maybe it's because they were designed for getting down, with wide open wooden dancefloors and killer sound systems. Imagine the surprise of the 1914 founders, if they could peer through time and hear the hardcore racket that would be pummeling out on a Wednesday night, nearly 100 years later. This was basically a double-headliner bill between two influential bands of different eras: Helmet, from the early '90s, and the most famous of the '70s school of artpunk, Wire. Wire, Helmet Live Show Review - Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR

Cate Le Bon - Mug Museum Album Review Cate Le Bon Mug Museum Wichita Recordings / Turnstile Music / The Elite Meat Supply (2013) For those of you who are familiar with classic BBC children's television programmes from the 1970s, the guitar work on Cate Le Bon's Mug Museum might remind them of the timeless landscape of Trumptonshire. Lying at the core of her new album, the interplay of these simple melodies combines to produce a music box complexity that clicks and shifts direction, calling to mind childhood memories and, perhaps, the comfort of established and familiar order. For the uninitiated, Trumptonshire is the fictional bucolic county in which the towns of Chigley, Trumpton and Camberwick Green were located. The essential subtext for the Trumptonshire trilogy was the encroachment of modernity and modern ways on the rural idyl. Each town had its own series, and, like fly on the wall documentaries for felt and foam puppets, it followed the daily lives of the people who lived there. For example, in Camberwick Green, there was the laid back and possibly alcoholic, cider drinking, farmer-come-windmill owner, Windy Miller, who was subtly at logger heads with the go ahead farmer Jonathan Bell and his modern mechanical farm. An important component of many childhoods in the UK, Trumpton, Chigley and Camberwick Green were reassuring for children whilst never becoming saccharine: there was always the threat of unwanted change on the horizon. Every character had their own song, sung by the legendary Brian Cant, that detailed either their personality or daily job of work. On "Mug Museum", this circular and childhood musical sound is complimented by a variety of other musical influences, all reinterpreted and deployed with imagination. There is some Beefheart and a dash of The Velvet Underground, such as on the twangy chaotic guitar, side drum beat driven and empty spaces of "Cuckoo Through The Walls". You might even find a sprinkle of Japanese musical phrasing, as in the track "Duke". There is also the laid back anthem that is "Are You With Me Now?", which recalls Bob Dylan in its rousing chorus.

After their collaboration on The Belle Game’s first music video proved natural and compelling in narrative, director Kheaven Lewandowski and the band decided to once again work together on the music video for "River", from their debut album, Ritual Tradition Habit. Much less upbeat than the previous track, "River"'s finds its setting moving from Western countrysides into Japanese cityscapes, as it follows a male sex worker – also known as a rent-boy – through neon-lit streets and into a realistically-documented underbelly of the city. The result is both sensual and raw, leaving viewers curious to know more about the subculture. Lewandowski and The Belle Game’s Adam Nanji discuss the formulation and execution of the music video, as well as the social ideas it stirs up, in the bi-lingual English-Japanese Q&A interview below. Japanese translation by Katch, Matt Erik and Yoshiko Sanda 日本語翻訳:三田佳子、キャッチ・マシュー

Nik Turner - Space Gypsy Album ReviewNik Turner Space Gypsy Cleopatra Records The fabled saxophonist, flautist and frontman Nik Turner has always sought to defy the epithet "ordinary". His showmanship, sax and flute playing and great songwriting were an essential compound in the chemical reaction that gave birth to some of the most influential albums and live shows of the early- to mid-1970s. Anyone who has been fortunate to see him live with Hawkwind, or his other projects, such as Inner City Unit, Nik Turner's Fantastic All Stars, Space Ritual and Nik Turner (ex Hawkwind), will know that he is one of the most exciting, outrageous and innovative performers ever to take to a stage. Turner's new album, Space Gypsy, appears to have succeeded in working the elusive magic of channelling that extraordinary live energy and capturing it on a studio album. This was always the success of early Hawkwind albums, from 1971's In Search of Space through to 1975's Warrior On The Edge Of Time, which were bursting with power and originality of a kind that has not been replicated by many acts subsequently. There are many other good Hawkwind albums, but that period is regarded by some as being the peak of what was attainable by the group.

This newest list of musicians includes the Blues musician who probably did more than any other one person to jump-start my interest in older music: Big Bill Broonzy. The fun of listening to somebody who recorded seventy years ago is that you can start to piece together who they influenced and who they worked with, giving you more to listen to. It sent me down a rabbit hole that I haven't even begun to crawl out of. Hopefully, I never will.
See all Forgotten Gems & Dusty Classics Posts Big Bill Broonzy

Big Bill Broonzy

Big Bill Broonzy, born Lee Conley Bradley, was my gateway to blues music. I discovered Broonzy while reading an R. Crumb comic when I was about thirteen years old and decided to investigate. Broonzy's birthplace has been the subject of dispute, though Robert Reisman claims that he was born in Arkansas. Likewise, the year is in dispute as well; Broonzy claimed that he was born in 1893, but subsequent research suggests 1903. Regardless, he moved to Chicago in 1920 and began playing guitar for so-called "rent parties" and for Paramount Records, where he sold poorly. Broonzy's style was all over the place: he varied from country blues to hokum (blues with sexually suggestive lyrics) to small groups reminiscent of rhythm and blues.1 After WWII, his music declined in popularity with black audiences but began to grow in popularity with white audiences once he began touring as part of a folk group with Studs Terkel. Broonzy spent his last years touring in the United States and Europe. His European tours were particularly successful and numerous British musicians -- one being Bert Jansch -- cited him as an important influence. He died in 1958 of throat cancer, leaving behind hundreds of recorded tracks. "I Can't Be Satisfied" might have been the first blues song that I ever listened to, so it seems fitting that I include as part of a Broonzy mix. "Key to the Highway" was recorded in 1940 and was one of his most popular songs as well as a later hit by Eric Clapton. "John Henry" is a great example of the kind of music Broonzy was playing toward the end of his life. Big Bill Broonzy - "I Can't Be Satisfied" [audio:/mp3/Big-Bill-Broonzy_I-Can't-Be-Satisfied.mp3|titles=Big Bill Broonzy - Decatur Street Tutti] Big Bill Broonzy - "Key To The Highway" [audio:/mp3/Big-Bill-Broonzy_Key-To-The-Highway.mp3|titles=Big Bill Broonzy - How Can Cupid Be So Stupid] Big Bill Broonzy - "John Henry" [audio:/mp3/Big-Bill-Broonzy_John-Henry.mp3|titles=Big Bill Broonzy - Jazz Battle]

Vex Ruffin - Self-Titled (Stones Throw Records)Vex Ruffin Vex Ruffin Stones Throw RecordsVex Ruffin's music has been variously described as "post-punk", "minimal", "gnarly", "primitive" and "a loose end". It is all of these descriptions and much, much more. An artist who began making music in his bedroom on his own, using an SP-303 sampler, Ruffin was scooped up by the label Stones Throw after sending in a speculative demo. Subsequently he took his pared back reductionist genre-splitting music on the road with a four-piece band, taking in shows at SXSW and Coachella. With influences including labelmate Madlib and P.I.L.-era Johnny Rotten, he produces music that is a reflection of the ordinariness and mundanity of his day job driving trucks for UPS and living amongst suburban monotony.

There is a somber weight inherent within the images of Italian visual artist Massimiliano Grandoni. With emotive composites of illustration and digital collage, he reveals eloquently phrased questions relating to physicality, to purpose and to categorized identity. The represented human characters appear to share a single world not only in aesthetic, but through essential symbolism and even metaphysical conflict.
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Tei Shi - Saudade EP Album ReviewTei Shi Saudade EP Self-Released (2013)Ever wanted a female artist with awesomely soulful vocals to make cool, interesting, and meaningful music? Now you have one. On her latest EP, Saudade, Valerie Teicher, aka Tei Shi, makes an impressive debut, exposing herself musically as well as emotionally, with powerful and lasting effect. The majority of Saudade is a cappella, with only minimal instrumentation and well-chosen electronic effects that highlight Tei Shi's stunning, cavernous voice. Low and versatile, her vocals, such as those on the EP's standout track, “Adder(f)all," vibrate in your ears with an immediacy second only to if she were physically present and singing directly into your ear. Punctuated with occasional dance beats, sparse percussion, plucked electric guitar, maracas, or bass synth melodies, her voice slowly encompasses you, wrapping itself around you like a fog and settling hooks into your heart with each subsequent layer of breathy harmony, before tugging on them repeatedly in cyclical patterns. Given the emotionality of her voice -- its notes of longing, anger, and passion—every loop, harmony, suspension, and resolution is amazingly spot-on, carrying with it the gravity and precision of choral music and evoking its same sense of controlled chaos.