Current: Julio Bashmore – Knockin’ Boots
I’m a zealot for dance music. In the last five years, I’ve found the seductive grooves of a drum machine and synthesizer far too alluring to ignore. Living in Plymouth makes that hard and I take great solace in hiding away with my headphones, imagining how great the music I’m listening to must sound like on a thumping sound system.
Julio Bashmore may be from Bristol but that feels like a million miles away to me. Each new release from him over the last few years has brought a big, silly grin to my face and has made my steps a little lighter. The man has a way with a groove. Some of the best dance music ever made exists in single track form. Having a whole album of stompers like this is a great remedy to the forthcoming winter.
From “Holdin’ On” to “Rhythm Of Auld” to “Umuntu”, the bass lines throb, the kick smashes and the samples reel around my head on constant loops, leaving me dizzy and always hitting the repeat play. This is dance music that sets a precedent and throws enough clever angles to reward deeper listening.
Classic: Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
A debut alarm should feel like a manifesto, one that the band writes starving and hungry, ready to communicate with the world. Look across the the big bands of the rock n roll pantheon and you’ll find them all there, still sparkling, regardless of age.
Bloc Party didn’t disappoint with Silent Alarm. Opening with the thundering, eager to speed from the gates clatter of “Like Eating Glass”. The vulnerability of Kele Okereke’s voice lending each successive song the emotional weight of yearning that the lyrics so often convery. To be frank, there’s a maturity of both playing and feeling on this record that most bands never get close to.
Together with the masterful recordings of Paul Epworth, everything feels in its right place without anything feeling amateur or dated. Other albums from ten years ago may feel like a snapshot of the previous decade, Silent Alarm will still sound impressive in another ten years. Don’t get me started on the decline of Bloc Party, that’s another rant for another time. With this record, they aimed high and propelled fast.
Local: Blowouts – A Veteran Of Sorts
In 2015, Plymouth bands are a mixed bag of genres, ideas and excitingness. It’s a buoyant scene that I thoroughly recommend dipping into. Take yourself to The Junction or Underground on Mutley Plain and you’ll soon find yourself rubbing shoulders with Plymouth’s musical alumni.
When it comes to Blowouts, it’s hard to see where they fit in the scene. They label themselves as post-punk and yet, on this record, sound like a band who have spent a long time pouring over records forged in the tepid fires of post-Britpop.
The album opens with the strong intent of “Stop Loss Policy” but alarm bells ring as the title track throws itself around like an Arctic Monkeys cast off, much without the lyrical wit. The punky strains of “On A Roll” hint at what this band could be capable of, as do “Kill Your Darlings” and “237” but too often, the record sags with heartbroken tales and an obsession with war imagery that seems hackneyed after 45 minutes.
This is a decent attempt at making good music, across all points. A little more grit and a wider lyrical palette could have raised this record to something special. As it stands, “A Veteran Of Sorts” provides some strong foundations for their next few records to build on.