Category Archives: New Music

Cathal Coughlan – genius of Irish rock

As the very first moments of my conversation with Cathal Coughlan began I knew that 60 minutes were not going to be enough time to enjoy what this adventurous musician had to say. Born and raised in Cork, Ireland Cathal began singing in the late 70s and by 1980 he had met Sean O’Hagan and formed Microdisney. A band that was hard to (thankfully) slot into a nice neat genre. On Discogs, Cathal is described rather aptly, as an anti-Bono. His music and lyrics some may call challenging, I on the other hand was fascinated and loved playing Microdisney alongside the plethora of post-punk-one-hit- wonders that cursed new music in the early 80s. The temptation to slide easily into a lovable New Wave outfit was enough for Mr Coughlan to see Microdisney dwindle down to a two-piece with O’Hagen and eventually reassemble as The Fatima Mansions, making, splendid yet hard to categorize music. The eventual demise of The Fatima Mansions in the mid-90s led to Cathal stepping away from being in a band to releasing solo albums, taking part in collaborations and making guest appearances. For a while he was involved in musical theatre, mostly in France. In 2006 he was described in The Irish Times as the ‘genius of Irish rock’. Cathal has been back in the studio recently and the result is his new album, Songs Of Co-Aklan.

Show 417

A Conversation With King Hannah

They look like they just stepped out of a photoshoot for ID magazine circa 1979 or it could be 2025. Their potent music, like their striking image, is an alluring reverent homage to a past they could have invented, perfectly and seamlessly blended into a brilliant foretaste of the future. Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle are King Hannah. Their moniker is clever, a deadpan kick in the shins of conformity and gender identity. Yet, Hannah nonchalantly says, “Oh, it’s a name I came up with ages ago, I thought it sounded good. So we used it”. That’s the thing about these two, everything is all matter-of-fact. There’s no pretensions, no deliberate persona they are eager to get across. When they are told that Crème Brûlée is an incredibly sexy song, they both sound surprised. Craig, between a chuckle or two, says, “Just look at us!” We did and we like what we see. The authenticity of King Hannah is right up front, their music does not mess about. “We’re determined to get it right”, says Hannah They genuinely enjoy making music together “We know when to finish a song without even looking at each other,” Hannah shares. There is so much going on in their debut EP, Tell Me You Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine, it’s almost impossible to grasp the depth of pure rock ’n’ roll spirituality that shines through on every track. There are so many ghosts channeling their voices through Hannah and Craig, they are harvesting the fruits to create vital music. Listen carefully to our conversation, then indulge in their music.

Because of time constraints and we wanted you to hear everything Hannah and Craig had to say, we edited a couple of their songs. You are advised to make sure you get your own copy of Tell Me You Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine.

Playlist

  1. Meal Deal 
  2. The Sea Has Stretch Marks
  3. Bill Tench
  4. Crème Brûlée

Show 424

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 222

Honestly, the temptation to go on a rant about the headlines coming across my news feeds almost interrupted me from beginning this post with a jolly, happy paragraph on the marvelous wonders of new releases that landed on my desk this week. Almost! Nah, let’s get everything underway and rave on, starting with Manchester-based Lindsay Munroe. Her new single, Need A Ride caught me tapping my feet along to the comfortable steady drum and bass pattern, then Lindsay’s voice took me by surprise. She sounds so vulnerable, yet as I listened closely, I understood, she is pissed off, “I don’t need someone to take my heat / It’s just me between these sheets / I feel more when I’m alone”. Do yourself a favor, check out Lindsay Munroe’s earlier releases. The beginning of Turn To Dust by Lauren Lakis must be the talented chanteuse manipulating the pitch to give us a somber, moody into more straight-forward rendering. The mood remains throughout though, courtesy of an excellent production. You may pick up on a lot of references here if you listen to Daughter Of Language, her new album. And that’s fine with me. The LP Summerheads And Winter Beds by The Raft once again prove that Nico of Shoredive Records is maintaining quality control for his label. Phil Wilson has been writing recording and performing under the name The Raft since 2003. He brings on board an array of different vocalists, Claire O’Neill sings on There’s No Going Back. The album was produced by Phil and J Pedro and a fine effort they have made. I have no idea how close they are to each other, but Shoredive is located in Brighton on England’s south coast and in the same locale as Jon Jones and posse at Roots Garden Records. Consistently releasing the finest of modern reggae, Free Da Minds by Dark Angel being a fine example. The rhythm here was conjured up by producer Nick Manasseh back in 2007 and named The Levi Rhythm. Nick is back behind the mixing board on this gem, twiddling the knobs for Dark Angel (AKA Mowty Mahlyka). As a bonus, I segue into Free Dub. Dance music with a message. OK, this is where I will admit to having been severely chastised by my producer for messing up the name YVA. Eva appears to be the correct pronunciation. The EP is titled, Hype Machine, you’ll hear, Fountain Of Youth. Amy Holford is YVA accompanied by Jonathan Hibbert, Martyn Kaine, Anna Pheobe, and Jordan Miller. So impressed was I with YVA, I searched out her acoustic version of her debut release, I Won’t Wait. You can hear that over at Life Elsewhere #413. The London-based artist says, “There’s no fountain of youth, just beautiful untruth” and “I hate that I’m an unwitting sales-person for my self-hate” Love it! Next, we dash back to Shoredive to hear from Air Hunger with Felt Like Dying a cut from the LP, F-I-X-E-R. This is the solo project of Polish musician Dawid Schindler, recorded entirely on his iPhone. Wonderful! There is probably a story behind the album title, How To Weigh a Whale Without a Scale from Léanie Kaleido. But, what I do know for sure is Léanie has captured an intriguing story in All The Things I’m Made Of. The UK-based artist grew up in a musical household, the daughter of The Yardbirds lead guitarist, Top Topham. At the production-desk is Mark Gardener of Ride fame. The Capital of Washington state is an unassuming, often very damp place named rather imperiously, Olympia. It could be argued that Calvin Johnson and his influential indie label, K Records are Olympia’s most celebrated legacy for serious music-lovers. Another fine example of K Records output is the album, Fake Books where we find The Moving Pictures four years after their debut album with three fewer members and eight new songs. Now we have one person, in this case, a poet and his guitar, synths, and a 606. Loved One, a sad song yet a memorable one. And when did you last hear Christopher Isherwood mentioned in a pop song? (This is a co-release with Perennial records, also out of Olympia). And, now to an artist who is unwavering in exposing her insecurities and questions. Yes, Anna B Savage has a remarkable voice and yes, Anna stretches and coaxes her personal instrument to deliver an astonishing range to wrap her provocative lyrics in. Her debut LP, A Common Turn takes the listener on an emotive journey that can only be heard as illicitly peeking into Ms. Savage’s secret diary. But here’s the conundrum, Anna’s words are so private, so intense yet she sounds determined to make sure we hear everything, loud and clear.  “This whole album is about questioning, exploration and trying really fucking hard. Hopefully a vibrator is a good companion for most of these things. To sum it up in two words: wank more,” she writes. You’ll hear two cuts, Corncrakes and Chelsea Hotel #3, listen carefully. Watch the videos. Admire the superb production by William Doyle. If you don’t agree this is an exceptional album, write to me with your thoughts. Both David Long & Shane O’Neill were the singers and main songwriters in two separate Irish 80’spost punk/indie/rock bands. David Long was part of Into Paradise and Shane O’Neill was part of Blue In Heaven. They both come from the same part of Dublin and have known each other since they were about 6 or 7, which goes a long way to explain the symmetry that shines in their new album, Moll & Zeis. The title cut was chosen as it represents just how good this album is. How many years ago was it when I first played the glorious 10” EP Turn To Red by Killing Joke on the radio? It does seem like so long ago, so far away. Not just because I was the first DJ besides Peel to air that extraordinary record, not even because I championed the band for weeks, for months, for years, I’m still excited to hear a new release from anyone involved with the band. What a delight then to receive a new three-track EP from K÷, a unique collaboration between kindred spirits: Jaz Coleman, Geordie Walker, and Peter Hook. The first two gents part of Killing Joke and Hook of course of Joy Division and New Order fame. Although the name in print is , they ask you say Killing Division. Remembrance Day is the first single, released a few days ago. To take us up to the close of the show, a little taste of Giving Up The Ghost from . There you are a jolly, happy paragraph (or three) on the marvelous wonders of new releases that landed on my desk this week. Enjoy!

LEM Vol 222 Playlist

  1. Lindsay Munroe – Need A Ride
  2. Lauren Lakis – Turn To Dust
  3. The Raft – There’s No Going Back
  4. Dark Angel (AKA Mowty Mahlyka) – Free Da Minds
  5. Dark Angel (AKA Mowty Mahlyka) – Free Dub
  6. YVA – Fountain Of Youth
  7. Air Hunger – Felt Like Dying
  8. Léanie Kaleido – All The Things I’m Made Of
  9. The Moving Pictures – Loved One
  10. Anna B Savage – Corncrakes
  11. Anna B Savage – Chelsea Hotel #3
  12. David Long & Shane O’Neill – Moll & Zeis
  13. – Remembrance Day
  14. K÷ – Giving Up The Ghost

Artwork for this volume by Celia “Teddy” Rubin “Father’s Day” 5’ x 4’6” 1999 Giclee print on archival paper mounted on wood panel. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection 

LEM Vol 222

2020 Special Mentions – Life Elsewhere Music Vol 214

Finally, 2020 is over and here we are as if blinking at unfamiliar bright sunlight, wondering what the new year will bring us. Here at Life Elsewhere Towers the abundance of wonderful new releases throughout 2020 could for a moment belie how rubbish the past twelve months have been. Being in isolation has been the prompt for so many creative folk to get off their arses and – well, create! We avoid Best Of Lists because every cut we play at Life Elsewhere Music has to be Best, otherwise, we wouldn’t play them, so we gave you Not The Best Of 2020. To start the New Year, we are giving a big nod to those who deserve a Special Mention

Miranda McCarthy – From Loving You on first play we were singing along with this song. Yes, it does sound familiar, yet original.  Miranda says, “The song was inspired by the wildness of West Cork and a life in profound transformation.”

Eka –  Shadow Play this song arrived unsolicited from Ekaterine, aka Eka with a wonderful descriptive message, “I’m a French visual artist with multicultural background and influences (French, Vietnamese, Russian and I spent my childhood in Brazil)” Eka went on to tell us all about her creative work. Her music caught our attention, in part because of her slight, lilting accent.  

Tears On Demand – If I Was Alive this is an outstanding example why you should investigate the releases on Shoredive Records. This is entrepreneurial, Nicolas Pierre Wardell, boss of the label’s own outfit. Clearly Nico is fluent in how to make an engaging song. The man’s work is appealing and his label must not be overlooked. 

Wu-Lu – Black Classical Music this cut from the Overgrown Interludes album is a perfect example why you need to spend time carefully listening to creativity of Wu-Lu.

Gad Whip – Sundown since we first heard these lads and their uncompromising music it was obvious they would be on our radar. But, please Gad Whip put out more releases often and send us some videos of you playing live. We want to imagine we are there with you having a mad dance around the place. Simply put, damn good intelligent music to have a knees-up to.

Benin City – Get Your Own and while we are talking about being in the dance. Josh, Shanaz & Tom aka, Benin City have that well covered. It would safe to say, every release from Benin City becomes a big fave for us. This trio know how to work their magic. Exceptional, well-crafted music with a message. In Get Your Own they tackle Covid as only Benin City can. 

Phoebe Coco  Different here is a talented in singer-songwriter-musician who has put our a number of superb releases. There is something about Phoebe output that prompts me to suggest she work with a producer who has another angle on her abilities. I’m thinking Olly Shelton of Pela fame, or maybe Adrian Sherwood. Your thoughts?

Tasha But There’s Still The Moon we keep returning to this cut, trying to analyze why it it works so well. Tasha says “For me, the moon is reliable, beautiful, it’s anchoring.” Written in early 2019, this single takes an optimistic message of gentleness. And, that we agree with.

Talitha Ferri Home she is out of Copenhagen, the album is, Get Well Soon. About this song, Talitha writes, “It was written in retrospect, at a time when I was able to appreciate the fragile moment that is falling in love. That sacred little dance we love to drag on and on, clinging to and resenting the space that stands between us.” Beneath that fragility, is a determined songwriter.

This Is The Kit – This Is What You Did this is the musical project of Kate Stables and whoever joins her in locations such as Winchester, Paris and Bristol. Her album, Off Off On showcases clever songwriting and production skills. There is an energy to be savored. 

Happy Speedy – Fresh Air “I like writing sad lyrics to help me through my feelings (or two),” says Eimear Coyle. The Irish-born singer, now located in Glasgow goes on to say she started the band to help her work through some tough times. With Glasgow friends Kieran Coyle, Rosie Pearse, Siobhain Ma and Connell King, their debut LP, You’re Doing OK is one of those hidden gems you should not pass over.

Miriam Ingram – A Tiny White Dot this poignant song from the album, Spells was produced by her son, Diolmhain Ingram-Roche and a fine job he does too of taking us through a psychedelic, visceral, textured maze of vocal loops and layered synths. Miriam’s observations on life are acute. Essential listening.

Keeno – I Wonder (feat. Ellie Madison) real Drum and Bass, Dubstep or Grime have not made it onto mainstream radio in America, which is why we like to make a point of selecting first-class cuts to wake up the neighbors with. Hospital Records out of the UK have been releasing brilliant cuts since 1996. Use this cut to lead you to discover more essential releases. Keeno’s I Wonder (feat. Ellie Madison) is so infectious, you’ll want to hear more.

Winsome – Untitled here is a fine example of how minimalist digital reggae can be so emotive. Winsome Benjamin was a popular Lover’s Rock chanteuse on the UK scene in the 80s. This 12” was probably originally released a few years back but rereleased to help raise donations to the northeast London migrant action (NELMA) solidarity hardship fund.

Penelope Trappes – Eel Drip to end this Special Mentions show an intriguing release. Eel Drip is about honouring the dead, the passing of lives within you and beyond you,” says the London-based artist. She continues “It’s about physical or emotional change, acknowledging fears, and being true to yourself… reaching your full potential.” Words to ponder as we move into a new year. The accompanying, disturbing video was directed by Agnes Haus and inspired by artist Francesca Woodman’s 1970s series of nude self-portraits with Eels.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to Life Elsewhere Music. Make sure you let us know what you think of the show. Send your thoughts to normanb@lifeelsewhere.co

Playlist

  1. Miranda McCarthy  From Loving You
  2. EKA – Shadow Play
  3. Tears On Demand – If I Was Alive
  4. Wu-Lu – Black Classical Music
  5. Gad Whip – Sundown
  6. Benin City – Get Your Own
  7. Phoebe Coco – Different
  8. Tasha – But There’s Still The Moon
  9. Tabitha Ferri – Home
  10. This Is The Kit – This Is What You Did
  11. Happy Speedy – Fresh Air
  12. Miriam Ingram – A Tiny White Dot
  13. Keeno – I Wonder (feat. Ellie Madison)
  14. Winsome – Untitled (SUG001-B)
  15. Penelope Trappes – Eel Drip

Happy New Year!

The artwork for this volume is by Jamie Singleton “Beautiful Brian” 1997 6’ x 8’ (detail) Giclée print on archival paper of a manipulated video image. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection. The image of the late Brian Jones has nothing to do with this selection of music. We just happen to love it!

LEM Vol 214

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 212

This volume of Life Elsewhere Music will be the last of new releases for 2020, a year we all desperately want to be over. Yet, it must be noted that despite the extraordinary events of the past twelve months was the abundance of excellent new music. And this volume is confirmation. To begin, Covid affected everyone, especially musicians including, Yazmin Lacey & Congi. The duo out of Nottingham recorded in their homes during lockdown and by finishing each song in ‘two takes’, they say, “We kept the process as raw and organic as possible.” Hence, the EP title, Two Takes. Follow Me a deceptively powerful song about a relationship. Don’t let the bell-chimes trick you into not listening carefully. Baby Blue from Frazier Blue has familiar air, yet the smart production and use of different synth pads result in a mysterious love song. I want to hear more from this Sydney-based artist. There is something happening in Dublin. A beautiful city that appears to be festooned with creative talent. Gemma Dunleavy is a terrific ambassador with the release of her EP, Up De Flats. Commenting on those obnoxious blue police lights, so often seen late at night agitating council estates in Stop The Lights, Gemma asserts her opinion in a well-crafted song. A tip-of-the-hat must go to Brendan Doherty on drums on this track. Gemma Dunleavy says, “These songs are dedicated to the people of Sheriff Street flats and the North Wall Community.” You can hear some of the voices of kids from the estate throughout the EP. Some names for bands work so perfectly, but they may mislead you into a preconceived idea of their music, here’s a fine example, Space Basement Cult, a trio from Leeds in Yorkshire. You’ll hear, Phil, The Self-Centered Weatherman which may have you checking off a long list of influences, especially when you take a listen to the other side, Me, The Self-Centered Lover. Influences aside, clearly these lads know what they’re doing, after all, they say they make “Wonk pop”. Recently, Shoegaze has been motivating intuitive young musicians in Seoul, South Korea to have a go. With the album, Fogesque, Fog who label themselves, Seoul City Shoegaze exhibit their enthusiasm. We selected Dehumidifier which builds to an impressive wall-of-noise. Sin is on the almost whispered vocals and guitars, Ryu is on guitars, Oh plays the bass, and 9SUK takes care of the drums and is responsible for the artwork. Next, hold on, while I rave for a moment or two…honestly, I have no idea why I have not had them on the show earlier, but to makeup, you’ll hear two cuts from Rosehip Teahouse’s Fine EP. I Meant What I Said and I’m Not Whole, if there were time, I’d play the whole EP, it’s that good. The Cardiff-based band is Faye Rogers, Tony Williams, Josh Dickins, Will Dickins, and Alice Low. “A twinkling descent into sadness.” They say about their music and Faye Rogers writes, “The songs cover love, losing love, fighting an eating disorder that wanted to take me over completely, my unregulated emotions, dreams (both literal and metaphorical) finding some sort of meaning amongst it all and coming out the other side, slightly stronger as a result of it.” I am entranced. Adelaide is the cut you’ll hear from the debut EP, Devil’s Rain from Maria BC. Almost apologetically, they say the EP was recorded in their apartment during lockdown in NYC – they usually sing much louder but had to keep the noise down, so as not to disturb the neighbors. And I say, I’m just thankful you made the recording. Beautiful! Maria BC adds, “I hope people find some intimacy in these songs.” Noé Solange is a London based producer, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and (I believe) photographer. Her heritage is Dutch/Indonesian and being raised around the world, Noé pulls cultural threads from her upbringing. This all comes together in the gently persuasive love song, Falling from her EP Bound. Top marks for the production. On her website, Seraphina Simone says, “Writes music to make bad decisions to.” Well, I made the good decision to include, Blue Devil in this volume. Seraphina is based in London, but she grew up between London and LA, she writes, “My songs draw on the syrupy seediness of Cali glamour and murky, neon-lit London grit.” You are advised to check out more from Seraphina. Next, we go to Chicago where Serena Isioma doesn’t mess around in asking, Why Am I So Toxic. Thankfully, gender-fluid songs are being heard and enjoyed beyond limited audiences. On their EP, The Leo Sun Sets, Serena Isioma ably demonstrates they are a competent songwriter and performer who can deliver a message. Spoken word artists are coming to the fore again and Sophie Sparham is garnering much-deserved praise. She partners with saxophonist, Christopher Gregory for this album, Sunrise Over Aldi. Hailing from Derby, Sophie will probably be surprised to learn her distinctive dialect sounds exotic to the American ear. You’ll hear the title cut, but make sure you check the rest of the album out. Here is that question of name choices again, John Edgar has a beautiful voice, plays excellent piano, and writes gorgeous plaintive songs. And, he uses the moniker, The Dawdler which is, I presume is intentionally misleading. John says he is well acquainted with the darker sides of life, his new EP, Sign of Growth, touches on subjects such as death, loneliness, grief, and alcoholism. Don’t Get Blue is the cut we have chosen. A large thumbs up to the other musicians involved in this album. Excellent. Last but certainly not least are Caitlin Loney and Peter Woodford from Montreal who perform here as Freelove Fenner. Their album, Punishment Zone is a well-produced, somewhat restrained affair, showing off superb songwriting and performing. Shoulder Season is a fine example. Our next volume will the big finalé for 2020 where once again we present, Not The Best Of. That’s right, far too much incredibly good music has come our way in the last 12 months to make a Best Of list. Instead, we will give you the most-played at Life Elsewhere Towers. 

Thank you for listening to volume 212 of Life Elsewhere Music. Happy! Merry! Jolly!

LEM Vol 212 Playlist
  1. Yazmin Lacey & Congi – Follow Me
  2. Frazier Blue – Baby Blue
  3. Gemma Dunleavy – Stop The Lights
  4. Space Basement Cult – Phil, The Self-Centered Weatherman
  5. Fog – Dehumidifier
  6. Rosehip Teahouse – I Meant What I Said
  7. Rosehip Teahouse – I’m Not Whole
  8. Maria BC – Adelaide
  9. Noé Solange – Falling
  10. Seraphina Simone – Blue Devil
  11. Serena Isioma – Why Am I So Toxic
  12. Sophie Sparham & Christopher Gregory – Sunrise Over Aldi
  13. The Dawdler – Don’t Get Blue
  14. Freelove Fenner – Shoulder Season

The artwork for this volume is by Shane Compton “Axiom #4” 2016 12” x 8” mixed media on laminated wood. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

LEM Vol 212

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