Samuraj Cities (www.myspace.com/samurajcities) are my favourite active band. They’re from Sweden and use a mixture of drum machines, dirty-sounding synths, real drums and guitars. They have a sleazy, clumsy kind style that recalls early Beck and New Order. The best thing about them is their tracks sound like they’re just one bar away from falling apart at the seams, but never do. It gives them a chaotic but cool edge that’s missing from a lot of modern, over-produced music these days. I recorded them live at Camden Koko in London for my Dandelion Radio show but never got to meet them as they arrived just minutes before they took to the stage because their ferry from Sweden got delayed due to the discovery of an old World War Two sea mine of the coast of Dover! Luckily, their equipment arrived before them and was soundchecked ready for them to rush onstage and perform. It was a great set, and I hope to catch them live again soon.
The last cd/vinyl you bought?
I get sent loads of CDs and demos from bands and labels, but the most recent CD I actually paid for was Crystal Castles’ second album (www.myspace.com/crystalcastles). I’m a big fan of their trance-meets-punk-meets-techno, and love the layers of synth sounds mixed with Alice’s distorted screams – ‘Baptism’ is my favourite track on the LP.
My latest vinyl purchase was ‘Duuug’, a 7” by His Electro Blue Voice – they’re an Italian band that record what consider to be ‘true’ punk music. I actually prefer the B-side, ‘Fury Eyes’. They have the energy of Sex Pistols and the intensity of Joy Division, mixed together with a modern punk aesthetic. You can preview their upcoming releases at www.myspace.com/hiselectrobluevoice, all of which are limited edition vinyl singles that can be quite tricky to track down. But it’s well worth doing so, as I think their best is yet to come – and they’re pretty fantastic now!
Recommend us a “must-seeing” record shops over the world.
Brighton is always a lovely part of the UK’s south coast to visit, especially on a sunny weekend. In an area called The Lanes, you’ll find Rounder Records (www.rounderbrighton.co.uk), which feels very much like a traditional, old fashioned record shop. The staff are always knowledgable and friendly, and every item has a brief, handwritten description of the act and release, so it’s a great place to browse and discover something new based on their recommendations. An essential destination whenever I visit the town.
Tell us the time you bought the most enormous amount of records
After getting my first CD player, I decided in I needed to upgrade all my New Order albums from tape to CD way back in 1989. I already had ‘Technique’ on CD, but bought their first four albums and the excellent ‘Substance’ compilation of their first twelve 12” singles (still my all-time favourite album) all on CD on the same day. It must have been around the time of my 15th birthday, as I’d never have been able to afford them all at any other time during the year as a school kid!
I did a similar thing a few years ago after watching a TV documentary about Morrissey: I thought it was pretty shameful that I didn’t own anything by The Smiths, so went out and bought six of their CDs on the same day. I think HMV had them all on special offer, which means those New Order CDs probably remain the most I spent on music in one day.
Your worst/best experience buying records?
I honestly can’t think of a bad record-buying experience, but I do miss the dark and dingy Virgin Megastore that was down Charlotte Street in Portsmouth back in the 1980’s. It was a massive shop with just one floor, and I remember it as always being poorly lit. The shop was part of the Tricorn Centre, an ugly concrete monstrosity built in the 1960’s that was one of the UK’s most hated buildings. The centre has been flattened now (it really was a horrible area of the city), but I do have fond memories of browsing the racks and racks of vinyl, band T-shirts and posters that they used to sell. It was a cool place to hang out and hunt down music back in my teenage years.
What will be the next step forward in music?
I think it’s going to be the slow move towards digital releases, which has its positive and negative element. I love the instantaneous nature of online digital music - discover a tune you like, and download it straight away – but obviously I’ll miss the physical aspect of owning a release and reading the artwork. As a proud owner of a Technics turntable, I’m pleased to see the resurgence in popularity of vinyl releases and think that independent labels such as Sonic Cathedral (www.soniccathedral.co.uk) are doing thoughtful “hybrids” of physical and digital releases. For example, if you buy Team Ghost’s latest (marble coloured) 10” EP, you get a code that allows you to download digital versions of the tracks to put on your iPod, as well as a bonus track not on the vinyl. It’s a nice touch that allows enthusiastic collectors like me the ability to buy something I can touch, read and place on my record player, as well as having mp3s I can conveniently listen to while on the move.
Recommend us a few “bands to watch”. Why them?
Ghost Society (www.myspace.com/ghostsocietyofficialsite) is my favourite discovery so far in 2010. This Copenhagen band’s debut album ‘The Back Of His Hands, Then His Palms’ takes the best of shoegazing, Joy Division and ‘Disintegration’-era Cure, melding them together with some haunting tunes and great musicianship to create my current album of the year. You’ll hear a spectacular session from them in my August show - the session version of ‘Under The Sun’ is astonishing, and has to be a contender for a place in the 2010 Festive Fifty.
UK electro act Atomizer (www.myspace.com/atomizermusic) have been around a few years now, and just get better and better. Their early material was produced by Jimmy Cauty of The KLF, and their single ‘Hooked On Radiation’ was remixed by Pet Shop Boys. I’ve been lucky enough to have featured them in session twice on my show now. Their finest moment is the extended mix of ‘Black Hand’ they recorded for my October 2010 show – it’s a brilliant piece of playful and experimental electronic music which reached number 28 in the 2009 Festive Fifty, voted for by Dandelion Radio listeners. If you’ve not heard the track, make sure you buy a copy of Dandelion Radio’s first ever compilation CD coming later in 2010, on which it’ll feature.
For some harder-edged trance sounds, check out Cygnus X-1 (www.myspace.com/cygnusx1mc) who contributed what was possibly the best session that’s featured on my show back in April. I adored the track ‘Logical Steps’, but felt it ended a little prematurely. At my request, he’s extended the intro and end of the track, making it a storming 9½ minutes long and giving the tune more space to breathe. You’ll hear it in my August show, and it’s possibly my favourite track of the year – again, expect to hear it in this year’s Festive Fifty.
How do you organize your record collection?
Alphabetical by artist; albums filed seperately to singles; chronologically by when it was purchased. As the photo of me in my music room shows, I have a wall full of CDs, and a modest amount of vinyl. If I didn’t file it alphabetically I’d never find any of it! I also keep details of all tracks and running times in a spreadsheet – the timings come in handy for planning my shows. My earlier records and CDs are listed in a handwritten folder that I’ve been meaning to add to the spreadsheet for years. At some point soon I’ll take a week off work for some hardcore data entry!