Thing of the Day 

Heraclite, J Mascis, Citizen Fish and Matt Stevens

March 7th 2011

Four albums for a Monday Thing..

Heraclite coverHERACLITE – Heraclite (NaxoProd/Urgence Disc) – You might just have noticed, if you take note of these things, that we’ve been playing this one lots on the radio for the last three months or so. Going to be a challenge to put this down on paper - mere words to describe the dancing around musical architecture once more, and Heraclite are not your average outfit.
       Heraclite are an instantly striking band; they demand your attention from that first album-opening low key whisper of a clank, and that first tribal chant that leads to… well, some ancient Greek philosophy and some organic forward moving mathematical funk – only it isn’t funk, more some kind of tribal thing. They talk of afro-funk and antique folk music, and yes - they really are singing in genuine ancient Greek. In fact, they’re singing the words of twenty-six centuries old ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus - “the old fool covered in mud”. 

       And who are these people making this was wonderfully unique (and awkward to describe) music? Heraclite say “these are Greek, French, Flemish and Swiss people, a mixing of townsmen and highlanders”

Heraclite Live      Mystical, tribal, full-on and rather intense at times, very spiritual, always very listenable - sounds like music that has been recorded as some kind of strange ritual you accidentally stumble upon walking late at night – saxophones, flutes, lots of percussion, left-field tribal rhythms, almost chanted yet quite folky in an experimental tribal kind of way; and occasionally menacing (guess he’s got the mud on for the bit that’s playing right now). Clanking bass-lines and chiming counter points and those lyrical noises (for that is all they are to these ears) and to the ritualistic feel of it all and, well… just differently good and all rather enjoyably compelling… Fascinating and unique.

there's a free download of a live recording here

J Mascis - Several Shades Of Why coverJ.MASCIS – Several Shades Of Why (Sub Pop) - Several shades of why? But he sounds so at ease with everything; the songs, the phrasing, the mellow relaxed easy upbeat nature of these quiet reflective songs - this doesn’t sound like a man asking why in any frustrated, angst-ridden way. Several Shades sounds like an accomplished musician and renowned song writer on a creative high, a man happy with life and living and sunny days and the place he’s at, a man in a place that just allows him to make and share rather fine songs and records like this. Hard to believe this is his first solo album; J.Mascis after all does have quite a track record and healthy back catalogue, been a quarter of a century since he founded Dinosaur Jr now..  Several Shades is a beautifully relaxed, easy on the ear album, an flavoured alternative North American delicacy you might not expect, an album and a set of songs that are just a pleasure to spend time with. And if this reviewer was to be very lazy, then this is a Neil Young on a mellow day when there’s no need for any of that jagged feedback and noise and to get in the way and clutter things up. And despite relationships and questions like is it you? life really isn’t that bad, is it?     sitting back and just letting it all flow; a surprisingly beautiful solo album from the ever good J/Mascis…  

Several Shades Of Why is out March 14th, there’s free download tasters, sound and more on his Sup Pop page -

Citizen Fish coverCITIZEN FISH – Goods (Alternative Tentacles) - More of their mental liberation, more of their question throwing and most of all, their punk rock calling to arms - come on, don’t sit there and let your freedom go in front of the television screen. And no, not as obvious as that makes it sound - no empty sloganeering and mere rebelling against whatever you got for them today.  Did Mr Lewis really find himself admiring the furniture on the TV adverts?  And was he really just singing that he got so happy that he had to complain? Well the whole planet is going insane isn’t it? Or is this the best you’ve ever had? Wake up! 

More of that very familiar punk rock ska skanking and anarcho political marching against the uniforms your taxes pay to keep you under control.  Put your money where your guilt is, in the banks and in the churches…If we’re all in this together then it really is the shit they put us in.  We’re on the path to madness and in danger of becoming the products on the shelves, the only time we pray is to pray for help Citizen Fishis for a credit card that stretches to eternity? A need for a little more than the evil fixation in the corner of the room, the fizzy drink gods ...and once again this is Citizen Fish and their positively charged anarchic questioning – they’re sounding pretty much like they always have. Must admit that the closely related Subhumans do it a little more in terms of relatively diverse musical deliverance, but its good to have Dick Lewis and co out there doing it (and saying it) in either format though, we need more citizen fishes out there swimming against the tide of this big society we find ourselves swamped in.

Another good Citizen Fish album then, not that different in sound or sentiment to their other albums. We might just need it a little more this rime around though, we are all in it together aren’t we? How much did the evil fixation machine’s news broadcast just tell us the head of Barclays bank made in bonuses last year? This band from the English west country may have a lot to be angry about but they do smile now and again, and their sloganeering, as always, comes with an uplifiting, positive, come get involved and be part of an alternative-skank….

Matt Stevens coverMATT STEVENS – Ghost (self release) - Pleasant enough, mellow, breezy, simple guitar sweeps. Instrumental pieces, well formed compositions, clever details. Clever yet simple, clean cut, same textures throughout, ideas progressing in a positively repetitive nature. A clean refreshing simple set of compositions that lean vaguely towards instrumental post rock without ever coming anywhere near the clichés that term conjures up these days. Gentle classical guitar, simple percussion, breezy loops, glockenspiel, melodica. The whole collection is in danger of becoming little more than polite background music, kind of need it to go somewhere… all very ‘nice’ and well, um... polite, and pleasant and... well, it's enjoyably breezy and politely nice should you be in the mood, you can download it for free, or pay should you feel like it, or indeed buy the well packaged finished CD version   -   

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