Mixcloud – mixes from the past – Fox Base Alpha #2

This was the second mix I uploaded to mixcloud. This one had an 80s 12″ mix theme (though not all mixes were from the 80s the songs were). A couple of songs here cropped up in the wedding mix – you can tell I have my favourites!

Never Let Me Down Again (Split Mix By Dm + Dave Bascombe) Depeche Mode
What Have I Done To Deserve This? (Shep Pettibone Mix) Pet Shop Boys
Torch – Manhatten Clique Remix (Edit) Soft Cell
Sometimes (Danny Rampling Mix) Erasure
Into The Groove Madonna
People Hold On (Full Length Disco Mix) Lisa Stansfield
Voyage Voyage (Maxi Version) Desireless
Need You Tonight (Liebrand 12` Mix) Inxs
Two Tribes (Annihilation Mix) Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Mixcloud – Fox Base Alpha #6

At the start of the year I discovered Mixcloud – which looked to me to be a great way of getting mixes up online while making sure the artists get their cut.  I’m not sure I’d ever be a DJ as I’m just cack handed when it comes to beat mixing, but I like to think I make a good mix CD and these mixes are kind of a half-way house.

I’ve been rather quiet on the mixes front for a couple of months. This is because I’d been planning my wedding along with moving my boyfriend (now husband!) in. I thought I’d kick things off again by mixing some of the selections we chose for the wedding reception. The party was loads of fun and we used the iTunes DJ mode to automix it and let the guests make requests! As always this mix is mixed live using Djay. From what I can remember all the tracks were played on the night! Enjoy!

Video Killed The Radio Star Buggles
Small Town Boy (Extended Mix) Bronski Beat
Brimful Of Asha Fatboy Slim
Starman David Bowie
I Want That Man Deborah Harry
My Delirium Ladyhawke
Enjoy The Silence Depeche Mode
Voyage Voyage (Maxi Version) Desireless
I’m Coming Out (12″ Mix) Diana Ross
Just Dance Lady Gaga Vs Eurythmics Dj Rizzo
Invisible Light Scissor Sisters
What Have I Done To Deserve This Pet Shop Boys
Pick Up The Phone Dragonette
I’ve Got Your Music Saint Etienne
Let The Music Play 12″ Shannon
Doctor Orbital

June Purchases – Part 2

Here are the rest of my eMusic downloads and album purchases for June 2012:

Maximo Park – The National Health – Another strong album from Paul Smith and the crew.  If you’ve heard ‘Hips and Lips’ you know what to expect.  Pop with a political edge is so rare these days – so its nice to see there is still some bands out there with things to say about modern life…

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless – I’ve been waiting for this re-issue for quite literally years.  Rumours that a remaster was being worked on started around 4 years ago and I’m pretty sure this has been delayed by at least 2 years.  I guess that’s MBV for you!  This shoegazing masterpiece is every bit as beautiful as it was 20 years ago.  As an aside the sleeve of my vinyl original is now displayed in the door of one of my bookcases in the study.

Pete Shelley – Homosapian – In the context of the current influence of 80s electronica this is probably a bit of a hidden gem.  I don’t think anyone expected this album of quirky electronic dance-pop from the  Buzzcocks frontman, but it should come as no surprise that it still sounds great.  Shelley was definitely the catchiest and most melodic songwriter of the punks and the move from sweaty punk clubs to the dancefloor is seemless.  The fact that this was his ‘coming out’ record is almost irrelevant.  Definitely homo-superior…

Public Image Limited – This Is PiL – Lots of good reviews for this, but I’m not sure about it.  Lydon can be very brittle and so far I’ve not found anything here to draw me in…

Richard Hawley – True Love’s Gutter – I get a regular mailout from Amazon’s MP3 stores with their £3.99 downloads of the week.  This one tied in with the release of Hawley’s new album (which I must get soon) and sees him in full-on love-lorn crooner mode.

Saint Etienne – Words & Music by… – I adore this album.  Must do a proper review soon.  Probably the purest pop album they have ever done. Think this is the sound of summer 2012, if not the year…

Scissor Sisters – Magic Hour – Very disappointed by this one.  Maybe I haven’t given it a fair hearing, but it sounds to me like they’ve gone for a collection of trendy producers in search of ‘hits’ and they’ve lost their personality along the way.  There are a few bright spots such as opener ‘Baby Come Home’ but generally, like the equally disappointing Ta-Dah, its a bit of a mess.

Simian Mobile Disco – Unpatterns – I’ve only really given this a cursory listen.  Quite different from ‘Temporary Pleasure’ but sounds interesting.

Squarepusher – Ufabulum – Downloaded on a whim to use up credits.  Not had time to listen to yet!

The Temper Trap – The Temper Trap – Followup to the excellent ‘Conditions’.  I suspect this may benefit from a bit more effort than it’s predecessor as there’s little as immediate as ‘Sweet Disposition’ or ‘Fader’.  Second-album-syndrome is always a danger when the début is as strong as ‘Conditions’…

We Have Band – Ternion – Another one I need to give a bit more time to.  Seems to live up to the promise of 2010’s self-titled début…

June Purchases – Part 1

I’m planning on doing this regularly at the end of the month.  I’m a bit late this month I got married and I’ve just got back from honeymoon!

So – here are my album purchases in June 2012

Best Coast – The Only Place – an eMusic download that I haven’t quite got round to listening to properly.  I do love the jangley C86ness of ‘Crazy For You’ and this is more of the same.

Ladyhawke – Anxiety – This album already feels very familiar, partially due to the ubiquity of ‘Black, White & Blue’ and ‘Sunday Drive’, but also due to having seen Pip and the band live in May.  While it may not have the immediate impact of the début it’s a good solid followup.

Cornershop – Urban Turban – This one needs to be lived with a bit more.  Cornershop are one of those bands that are hard to pin down (the hit remix of ‘Brim Full of Asha’ is as much Norman Cook as Cornershop) and this almost has the feel of a compilation album.

Dexys – One Day I’m Going To Soar – Not sure why this has been getting such good reviews.  It really hasn’t grabbed me – the songs are rather ordinary and the production is pedestrian (reminds me of band recordings people did at university!).  I guess people are just glad to have Kevin Rowland back again.  It’s OK – but not in the same league as ‘Searching for the Young Soul Rebels‘…

Garbage – Not Your Kind of People – Another revived band.  Manson & co pick up exactly where they left off.  This is a good thing!

Ian Dury & The Blockhead – Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll – I was browsing through eMusic and saw that this compilation that tied in with the recent bio-pic was available.  All the hits are there plus a few 12″ versions – definitely worth the credits.

John Talabot – Fin – Recommended by @richy1311 – not really had time to investigate properly, but what I’ve heard so far sounds good.

Lady Gaga – Born This Way – I think Lady Gaga was an inevitable choice for the wedding reception.  In my defence it was only £3 and there’s quite a few fun pop songs (though it’s not as good as the début imo)

Matt Zarley – Change Begins With Me – Recommended to me by someone who’s musical taste is normally impeccable. In this case I think he was swayed by a pretty face…  This is *not* good!

I’ll followup with the reset of the month’s purchases in another entry shortly!

My music – Contradiction

[audio http://foxbasealpha.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/contradiction.mp3]

Another song from my final year at University this was written and recorded in the winter of 1995.

This song is about a very specific person and situation though I’d like to hope it can be interprited more generally. It’s about people that are very lively and talkative but you never really know them….

Lyrics
Words pass like someone else’s story
I know you have a past, why won’t you talk to me?
Yet you tell me things you think I ought to know
Are you a martyr to the cause?
So self assured, yet scared inside
So open, but what’s on your mind?
You seem so free but the chains they bind

Talk to me…..

Tell me how it felt when you lover died?
Tell me when was the last time that you cried?
Do you think I can’t see the pain you hide inside
I can see behind the facade
You’d help anyone, does it ease the guilt?
You’re so alone, why did you need to escape?
You live with this but you know its too late

Talk to me
You’re a contradiction

Words and music by Foxbase Alpha
Stewart Tolhurst: Synthesisors, programming and string arrangement.
David McLean: Guitars
Eleanore Thomason: Singing
Philip Rawson: Saxophone
The voice of Matt Gunby

Strings conducted by Alastair Warwick
Violins: Elisa Bergenson, Oliver Ogg, Anne Renshaw, Ben Selby, David McLean
Violas: Erika Brunnen, Ben Harris
Cellos: Kristian Hibbard, Hannah Payne

Recorded in Edit 1 and Studio 2, University of Surrey Department of Music, October 1995.

Albums of the year… so far…

The Guardian have published a list of their contributors’ albums of 2012 (so far) and it’s a fairly eclectic list.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/jun/14/best-albums-2012-so-far

I think the fact that I don’t actually know many of these albums or indeed artists is a sure sign that my hipster days are over (if they were ever there at all!), but there’s certainly things there that I already have or pique my interest…

Saint Etienne ‘Words & Music By…’  Easily their poppiest album since ‘Good Humour’ and its nice to see that they managed to avoid the trap of having their personality subsumed into that of the production team.  I must do a proper review of this soon.

Django Django ‘Django Django’ Great album – nothing else quite like it out there at the moment.

Chairlift ‘Something’ I’ve heard a few tracks from this one, so I think it needs to go on the buy list.  ‘Met Before’ got a fair amount of play on 6 Music.

Grimes ‘Visions’ Grimes is another one that’s getting quite a lot of play on 6 Music and I’m liking what I’ve heard.

Hot Chip ‘In Our Heads’ Hot Chip are one of those bands that I always end up overlooking. I suspect if they were on eMusic I’d have this already, but for some reason they never come to mind when I’m buying in-store…

Dexys ‘One Day I’m Going To Soar’ I’ve heard a *lot* of good things about this, which is rather unexpected given how mercurial Kevin Rowlands can be.  Must download this from eMusic now that my credits have rolled over…

Lana Del Rey ‘Born To Die’ I’m afraid I just don’t get LDR.  She’s got a good voice and the production is top-notch but for me the songs just aren’t there.  All sheen and no substance I’m afraid – from the carefully constructed persona (complete with backstory) through the the faux-Lynch videos – scratch the surface and she’s just another pop-starlet with some rather ordinary songs…

My music – Over & Over

[audio http://foxbasealpha.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/over.mp3]

Written and recorded in spring 1996 at the University of Surrey this is one of my favourite songs and was submitted as part of my portfolio of recordings.
The song is about how people get into the same kind of relationship over and over again. Even though you know that the relationship is totally self destructive you still go on…..

Lyrics
You said you would leave, but what about me?
That’s not the way that I want it to be
I’ve been there before
If you walk out that door
There is no way you will see me again
If we want the same thing
Then you’ll want to stay
Could you walk out without a word
But if you go I want you to know
I’d do it all over….

And over and over again

I’ll find someone new
He might be like you
He’ll tell me the things that I wanted to hear
If it happens again would anything change
Would I be the victim I’m getting to know
But what is the point of wasting my time
Just carrying on when I’m not really sure
I know there’ll be more after you
It’ll never be over….

Written and performed by Foxbase Alpha
Stewart Tolhurst: Keyboards and Programming
David McLean: Guitar
Eleanore Thomason: Singing

Recorded in Edit 1 and Studio 2, University of Surrey Department of Music, spring 1996.

My music – Gotta Have It

[audio http://foxbasealpha.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/gotta.mp3]

The genesis of this song was experimenting with Apple’s Garageband when I got my first Powemac. I’m actually pretty pleased with how this turned out. It is very 80s, with more than a touch of The Human League about it. I’m not sure how successful my attempts at being sexy and breathy are…

Lyrics
Skin on skin
Sweat on sweat
Draws you in
And you want it

Moist hair clings
To your chest
Intoxicating taste
You gotta have it

You want it
And you want it
You want it now
Gotta have it

Album art

Every since I got my first iPhone I’ve got a little bit obsessive about having the right album art attached to my MP3s.  It makes it easier to see albums when you’re flipping through and it generally makes for a nicer experience. One of the many problems with iTunes is that its album art detection is limited to items in the iTunes Music Store catalogue.  Combine this with the fact that it uses the frequently ropey Gracenote database to propogate metadata when you rip a CD and you’ve got a recipe for fustration!  While I frequently find myself tidying up Gracenote track listings (misspellings is the most frequent one) I’ve found a very handy site to help with iTMS’s less than comprehensive catalogue – Albumart.org.  It seems to get most of it’s data from Amazon listings, so out of print discs can still be hard to find, but for most things its really good, especially when there are multiple versions of an album’s artwork available.

This has proved very useful for my current project – ripping some of my fiance’s CDs for inclusion in our wedding reception disco (hired PA, laptop and iTunes DJ mode) as some of his selections definitely aren’t in the iTMS catalogue!

DMCA takedown notice kills REMcycle at birth…

I’ve been a fan of the work of the Recycle team (Drew Crumbaugh, Jeb Edwards and Bruce Barlett) since discovering their loving restorations of the Factory Joy Division/New Order single releases and followed the subsequent restoration of The Smiths Rough Trade singles from the start.  Their next project would cover the IRS-era singles of REM beginning with a very early demo tape given away by the as-yet-unsigned band to gig-goers.   It was rather disappointing to hear that, after no legal problems from the New Order or The Smiths camps, that Universal (who own the rights to the IRS catalogue) had issued a DMCA takedown notice on the first media file posted on the new-born blog.

Understandably Drew is now reluctant to continue with the project.  This is a huge shame as  this material is long out of print and much would be unlikely to ever see an official release.  It’s also worth noting that it is the opinion of many (including members of the band) that their work on the New Order singles was superior to the official re-releases!  This is such a lost opportunity for fans of REM…

What is slightly encouraging is that the story has picked up some mainstream media interest, including SpinRolling Stone and CNN!