Jagwar Ma’s music has been described as retro-psych and pegged as a revival of the baggy Madchester sound, but there’s a lot more going on than that. With the band interviewed in full in this week’s NME, we asked them to tell us about five records that fed their debut LP ‘Howlin’.
Richard D. James meanders between the sinister and the euphoric with such subtlety that you’d mistake hell for the elysian fields. I guess that is why I love this album so much. Even as a person, in the few insights available to his character, he comes across as a person who on the surface exerts a curt and cynical nature and yet ultimately probably has a rather optimistic and dare I say romantic view of the world. The title of the album even suggests a sense of apprehensive humanity. The range of colours and sounds is typical of an Aphex Twin record, The Waxen Pith, is a perfect example. I find myself imagining what the songs mean as there is little insight offered, anyways. An amazing album that I’m so happy to have as a part of my life.
There’s no denying that the early 90’s in New York saw an explosion of hip hop that would rival the Cambrian era. I’m sure I don’t have to list all the acts, but to name a few A Tribe Called Quest, De la Soul, the mighty Wu Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Diamond D, Nas. All started within months and miles of each other. These are the brighter stars of the scene, verging on being household names by now. Black Moon for whatever reason didn’t rise to such fame. But their debut record Enta Da Stage has an important place in my heart, and may be a prime summary of this bygone era.. It’s an angry younger sibling of the acts, with lyrics like “Jump on my Skateboard and do muh f**kin drive by”. . . Proper rebel music. I remember riding my skateboard with this on my ipod. Feeling pretty tough, graphing my old band’s name around Sydney.. if you can find it on vinyl, do yourself a favour and geddit and put it on. It’s the perfect soundtrack for pretend arguments while you storm around your bedroom, thinking of whether to be a menace in the house, or out on the street.
In the last 3 years I find myself orbiting Tyler like one of the many moons of Jupiter. Released in 2009, Bastard shook the hip hop industry from the underground in true punk rock style: Self made, self released and damn right offensive. The debut solo release from the then 18 yr old rapper, producer, director and skater, this mixtape fuses abrasive homemade pro-tools beats with the rich harmonic colour of jazz greats like Herbie Hancock and Bill Evans. This lofi concoction results in something that I find almost demonically beautiful. It won’t come as a shock to anyone to describe Tyler’s lyrical content as somewhat unhinged. The title track reads as psychiatric confession to his alter ego, Dr TC (Tron Cat) and speculates darker, almost Tarantino esque themes of rape, murder, psychosis and drug use through the scope of an adolescent verging on adulthood. It comes as no surprise to hear that two of Tyler’s key influences were 70’s french jazz fusion band Cortex (which he samples) and Eminem. Tyler, Wolf Hayley, Sam or whatever you wanna call him hypnotizes the listener with internal monologues on tracks “Seven”, “Blow” and “Odd Toddlers”, while the down-tuned vocals and distorted beats on the albums second single “French” almost dwell on hardcore punk. Peace out.
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The Liars are an uncompromising band who continue to evolve and change with each album. Their latest album Wixiw is incredible and a step deeper into electronica but the album that first really grabbed my attention was Drum’s Not Dead which restored my faith in the Long Play Album as a format. This record is rich in concept and the artist’s self-imposed limitations are clear and concise. When it came out, I think I listened to this album from start to finish over a thousand times.
This was my favourite album when I was 15 and is still a record I keep returning to. As a naive teenager you hear only the warmth and soul of this record with Sly’s optimistic lyrics and messages of self-empowerment. Upon repeated listens and after learning more about the process behind this record one discovers the darkness, confusion and anxiety that poured into the Family Stone’s music at this time of their lives. Larry Graham practically quit as Sly turned further away from the Family and regressed into a deep dark world of drugs and paranoia. The warmth and crackle was somewhat accidental, a symptom of incessant overdubs and poor engineering rather than a conscious decision as I once believed. My personal favourite, Thank You For Talking To Me Africa was in fact an unfinished track slapped on to make up track numbers. Whether intentional or accidental this album is a true masterpiece.