Sunsets And Glue

Down on the Atlantic coast at the south west of France the sunsets are, to put it mildly, pretty spectacular and beautiful. Gathering on the beach each night to watch the sun sink into the sea was a ritual for a lot of the holiday makers down there and the locals too. The light that the sun threw out as it descended into the distance was stunning too.

While queuing at Portsmouth trying to get out of the ferry port on Wednesday night I stuck Radio One on, not something I do very often. We got the last twenty minutes of Annie Mac’s show where she mainly talked about the recent Radio One Ibiza weekender and played a few tracks, one of which sounded brilliant, a real sundowner (or sun-upper) of a track. And while going through four hundred plus emails yesterday I got one promoting the track in question- Bicep’s Glue. Bicep area an Irish duo, bloggers and djs and now makers of music too. Glue has a breakbeat with some reverb on it and then some lovely synths. All warm and blissful. Out now digitally with an album in September.

Bonjour

Bonjour mes amis- we got back from France late last night following a Dean Cassidy style drive across France and England. You’ll be pleased to know that Bayonne, deep into the south west of France, Basque country, is proudly anti-fascist. While I was away news came through of a new Andrew Weatherall solo album, Qualia, due in September on Hoga Nord and a two track dub 12″ at the end of August. This song is a trailer for the album- twinkling synths, krauty beats, and a voice saying ‘hello’.

And also while I was enjoying the sun, the moules, the frites, the vin, another Music’s Not For Everyone appeared. Plenty of catching up to do.

Celebration

I’m off on my summer holiday today, hitting the road to Portsmouth, an overnight ferry to St. Malo and then one night in Bordeaux. From there we are heading to a campsite north of Bayonne, on the Atlantic coast of south west France. A bit over a week later we are heading north and having four nights in the Vendee near Saint-Jean-de-Monts. So it will be two weeks before there’s any action here.

I bought Peter Hook’s latest book Substance, which focuses on his time in New Order, for one of my holiday reads. Over the last few days curiosity has got the better of me and I’m already a hundred pages in. Which led me to looking for this clip, a fledgling New Order playing a short set (half an hour, six songs) at Granada Studios in 1981 for a programme called Celebration. According to Hooky there had been a disagreement with the TV crew. Union regulations meant that only a union member could touch the sound desk- words and opinions had been exchanged. The tension is clearly present. However this is also a fascinating document of a band crawling out of tragedy and feeling their way towards a new sound. Dreams Never End (the best song off Movement), sung by Hooky, is driving and aggressive. ICB, Chosen Time, Denial and Truth show the band still playing Joy Division riffs but with the synths and electronic drums finding their way in. Just listen to the opening of Truth, Steven’s synth pads hissing, then Hooky’s bass and Barney’s melodica. Ceremony is played four songs in, guitars rawer and brighter than the studio version. The twenty seven minutes captured here are a treat all these years later but no one there at the time, audience included, seems to be having very much fun.

No doubt once I get back, having got through all 700 plus pages in Substance, there will be further New Order posts to come. See you all in a fortnight.

Home Again (Again)

Back home again- I’ve barely been at home for the last three weeks have I? I’m sure those of you who don’t have long summer holidays don’t want to hear about the beautiful rolling hills of the Dordogne, the sandy coloured French villages, the point at which the Dordogne and Vezere rivers converge, engravings made on cave walls by our ancestors 25, 000 years ago that take the breath away, the fine wines of the Bergerac and Saumur, long sun drenched evenings, the daily sunshine and 34 degree heat. So I won’t go on about it. If it’s any consolation I can offer this advice- don’t ¬†get a ferry back across the Channel from Caen to Portsmouth that lands at 10 pm and then leaves you having to drive up to Manchester round not one, not two but three sets of roadwork diversions and gets you back in at 3 am.

Long summer drives through France on the other hand are a joy. The roads are great, traffic is minimal, the scenery wonderful. We have occasional differences about what should soundtrack the journeys. This year’s tune that all of us agreed on was this recent smash from Beyonce, full of ire and anger, led by calypso strings and some intense drums. It borrows liberally from Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs too.

Hold Up

If you haven’t heard it the album Lemonade is full of great tracks. Genuinely.

Away Again

A quick turn around and I’m off again, with the family this time, down to the Dordogne in South West France for the next couple of weeks, stopping off in the Loire for three nights on the way back. It’s looking good.

I’ll leave you with a couple of songs to speed us on our way and to keep you happy. Rikki Turner’s new band The Hurt released a cracking song a few months back, the moody and epic Berlin. The new one is a cover of Nico’s One More Chance and is a stately throb.

The new Hardway Bros ep Pleasure Cry is one of my records of the year thus far. This song, Argonaut, was written specifically by Sean Johnston to be played on the boat at Croatia’s Electric Elephant Festival. It starts off like Weatherall’s mix of Come Together and then heads off into the sunset putting its arms around you and doing a little dance.

And just so’s there’s some screaming guitars and drawled vocals here’s J Mascis and The Fog covering Teenage Fanclub’s Everything Flows with Mike Watt on bass. It then diverts into Pavement’s Range Life and The Ruts’ In A Rut. Is it any good? Of course it is. It is seven minutes of good.

Bonjour

Hi. We’re back. The found that sun we were looking for, 30-34 degrees of it most days. It hangs about over France almost every summer apparently. The Jura is ace- beautiful hills and villages, lakes for swimming in, cheap wine.

This is that Andrew Weatherall remix of Gwenno, bouncy Welsh psychedelic dub. It turned up just before we left two weeks ago and got several airings in the tent.

Run For The Sun

Right then- midday today and we’re off, hitting the road and driving to The Jura, that bit of France just above Switzerland, eleven nights in a Eurocamp tent at the campsite pictured above. The vino, the fromage, and the jambon are calling me. Thankfully when we booked back at the start of the year we decided to cross from Hull to Zeebrugge so are avoiding what looks like a nightmare at Dover- Calais.

This Dinosaur Jr song is called Run For The Sun and that’s pretty much what we’re doing. The weather in the north west of England has been poor, nothing in the way of summer except for three hot days at the start of July. So, hopefully France will deliver us some sunshine. In this song Dinosaur Jr channel their inner Beach Boys and turn in something very good indeed. Unlike the video, which is shite. Video only again I’m afraid- I’m putting off making a decision about a filehosting service until I get back from France. Have a good time while I’m away, see you in two weeks. A bientot!