Caught in the Net: Russell comes back to life
Friday 30 October 2009
The best song I've heard this week is a previously unreleased track recorded by Arthur Russell (left). Best known as a pioneering disco producer in New York in the 1970s and 1980s, Russell fell into obscurity before his death from an AIDS-related condition in 1992, but his reputation has been ressurrected with numerous releases in the last ten years. Alongside disco, his instrument of choice was the cello, while also he tried his hand at pop music and all manner of experimental and avant-garde musical endeavours. He left behind 1,000 tapes of his work, so there is still music to be unearthed, like this folky track, "Come To Life". Channelling Nick Drake, the song has gorgeous vocals from Russell and an unnamed female singer, with a lilting electric guitar and a great horn section popping up here and there. It was recently released as a limited edition split seven-inch vinyl single with the debut song by CANT, a side project of Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor. The track is streaming on the Gorrilla vs Bear site, found at tinyurl.com/yfyu5ks, and the MP3 can be purchased at tinyurl.com/yheuck6.
Simply the Beast
Take that, U2! The Irish pomp-rockers aren't the only ones who can put a whole gig online. Granted, this Wild Beasts show was recorded in east London in August, not streamed live to millions from the Pasadena Rose Bowl, but you take what you can get. Back in early August the Kendal quartet brought their brand of sophisticated art-pop to the plush surroundings of Hoxton Hall, showcasing tracks from their acclaimed second album "Two Dancers". In case you missed it at the time (or want to relive the magic), you can now watch the whole thing on their website, tinyurl.com/ykbdeef. They're also giving away one track, "This Is Our Lot", as a free download.
Ghosts in the machine
Swedish electro boffin Karin Dreijer Andersson (right), the brains behind Fever Ray and one half of The Knife, is quite spooky as it is. But now she has gone further by compiling a Hallowe'en themed podcast mix for electronic magazine Resident Advisor, tinyurl.com/yj46nye. "The eclectic and wide range of music makes it more dynamic and more intense," she explains. "The tracks affect each other, they get even more mean." We'll take your word for it Karin; just don't hurt us.
String driven thing
"Q" is an arts show on Canadian radio station CBC. On their YouTube channel they've started a series called "Guitar 'How To' with Q", tinyurl.com/yfhwk2d, in which they film various indie musicians explaining how to play their songs. So you get, among others, Aaron Dessner of The National explaining how to play "Fake Empire" and Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig taking you through the chords of "A Punk", which is nice, if you're into that sort of thing.
It has been a big year for worthy supergroups, with the Conor Oberst/Jim James/M Ward effort Monsters of Folk, Jack White's latest incarnation The Dead Weather, and the nascent Thom Yorke/Flea collaboration. Next in the ring is These Crooked Vultures, featuring Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones. Their debut album is out on 16 November, but this week they officially unveiled their first song, "New Fang" – it can be downloaded from 3 November but it's playing now on their YouTube channel, tinyurl.com/ylnuo3u. It showcases the trio doing what they know best; playing it hard. They'll certainly give The Dead Weather a run for their money in the race to be the year's loudest supergroup.
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