Buzzcocks Co-Founder Pete Shelley Passes Away
We were deeply saddened to learn of Pete Shelley’s passing yesterday. A founding member of punk rock outfit Buzzcocks, who played some of their earliest shows at Band on the Wall during the era of the Manchester Musicians Collective – he penned a popular punk classic in Ever Fallen in Love and inspired innumerable young people to pick up a guitar and begin playing and writing themselves. Dave Haslam, who interviewed Shelley in June of this year, said in a social media post, ‘He was funny, intelligent, warm, playful. Such an inspiration and such a star.’
Shelley was born in Leigh, just outside Wigan and met fellow Buzzcocks co-founder Howard Devoto at the then Bolton Institute of Technology in 1975. The pair formed the band soon after – first watching and later opening for the Sex Pistols. Their debut EP arrived in 1977 and a bootleg from the era entitled Best in Good Food features recordings made at Band on the Wall and in other Greater Manchester venues. Pete will be sorely missed and we wish his family and all those associated with Buzzcocks the best at this difficult time.
ILL, Sons of Kemet, Julia Holter, GNOD, Hailu Mergia and Lekhfa make The Quietus’ Albums of the Year list
The Quietus can always be relied upon for a singular and comprehensive review of the year’s album releases, and this year is no different. Band on the Wall favourites including Sons of Kemet, GNOD and Lekhfa made their Top 100 this week, which spans the experimental regions of contemporary rock, electronic music, jazz and much more.
Maryam Saleh, Maurice Louca and Tamer Abu Ghazaleh are the three Cairo-based musicians behind Lekhfa, who begin this year’s list. Their eponymous debut is an astonishing amalgam of traditional and contemporary sounds, capturing the vitality of Cairo’s underground music scene, in spite of the difficulties artists face in the Egyptian capital. Read the full Quietus list here and stream their record below.
The Repeat Listen: Vulfpeck – Hill Climber
Tasting Notes: Steely Dan – Gaucho, 10cc – The Original Soundtrack, Dr. John – Desitively Bonnaroo, John Mayer – Continuum, Cory Wong – The Optimist
Over the course of this decade, Vulfpeck have rewritten the rulebook for attaining success in the contemporary music landscape. They’ve resisted outside interference, demonstrating how a DIY approach to the production of online content, release of music and merchandising, can forge a stronger bond with fans than the traditional models involving labels and management, sponsorship or brand association. They’ve ‘hacked’ the Spotify model, generating approximately $20,000 from streams of a silent Sleepify album (since removed by Spotify,) using the funds to embark on a free entry tour, growing and galvanising their fanbase in the process.
They have also released their own software plug-ins, while sticking to the fairest of royalty distribution models, meaning that each contributor takes an equal cut of profits for a given piece of music. Through these sincere ideas and actions, they’ve outlined a novel way to organically cultivate a devoted and appreciative fanbase in the 21st century, without compromising a musical identity built upon musicianship, inventive writing and an open door collaborative policy.
There was a suggestion before the release of Hill Climber, the band’s fourth studio album, that it may be their last – bandleader Jack Stratton making a potentially tongue-in-cheek observation that a greatest hits compilation from their near decade-long recording career would be the pinnacle of what they could achieve during their first phase as a group. Whether that’s the case or not, what is clear from listening to Hill Climber is that each of its contributors is well and truly bedded in with the Vulfpeck aesthetic. The ten-track effort has a natural, well-rounded and unforced aura, despite there being plenty of stylistic diversity and a deliberate side A/side B split of vocal and instrumental tracks, (Jack describing it as an opportunity for vinyl listeners to ‘choose your level of engagement’ in a recent interview.)
The most obvious development from their previous LP, Mr Finish Line, is the increase in contributions from singer-songwriter Theo Katzman. Theo handled his own vocal recording and production this time around, double tracking his takes to give his voice the character and presence he desired. Songs like Lonely Town and Love is a Beautiful Thing unashamedly recall sixties and seventies pop-rock songwriting and arrangement techniques, with the band’s impeccable execution and clever embellishment reminding us how well they can play, even while they’re settling into a laid back groove, serving the song and vocalists.
Lost My Treble Long Ago is, as its title might suggest, the track where Joe Dart’s electric bass playing takes the fore. On a Headhunters-esque riff, his percussive playing style and lightning-quick runs across the fretboard set up a slow-burning funk groove, finished off with Cory Wong’s funk guitar and Joey Dosik’s sax lines.
The excitement that preceded this release within an international community of fans, actively engaged on social media, goes to show that Vulfpeck are doing a lot of things very well. This album reaffirms their ability as musicians and demonstrates a subtle development in their sound – a fitting conclusion to what has been an exciting year for the band.
Singer and songwriter Martyn Joseph released his new single Here Come the Young recently. A dramatic and politically-focussed folk song, it contains lyrics such as: “Tired of assassination, tired of military threat, tired of the talk of trickle down and they’re tired of crippling debt,” leaving little doubt as to where Joseph stands on the state of affairs for young people at this present time.
Steve Spacek releases a new LP with Eglo records today. Take Ova ft. Oddisee is one of the record’s suavest liquid funk grooves, Spacek’s falsetto vocals and cosmic production outlining why he is considered to be one of the most individual creatives in contemporary broken beat music.
The short film accompanying Kasper Bjørke Quartet’s Dur For Vitus is the pick of our music visuals this week. Directed by Justin Tyler Close with production design by Marie Boye and Anne Gry Skovdal, the film explores the dynamics of father/son relationships, with a sense of childlike wonder and desire for a greater understanding of life guiding the narrative.
The new video for Xymelan by Qluster uses the glare of a laser pointer to create the relaxing mood of the visual. Dirk Oberbeck was the inspiration for ‘blazing blurred light effects’ and the video was produced Armin Metz and Onnen Bock. Xymelan is a meditative piece of German electronic music, with acoustic stringed instruments adding depth and harmonic intrigue to the track
Finally, London-based MC Serocee hopped on the new Ghost Writerz posse cut Nah Join, earlier this week. A reggae-flavoured slice of midtempo hip-hop – the track and video capture the joys of producing music as a crew, while the full remix EP features a tasty DnB rerub of the lead single, by Selecta J-Man.