Secret Cave Office Chart [MARCH 2017]

This month’s playlist is much more varied than the February edition.  I tried a lot harder to make it a bit more representative of my overarching tastes.  That said, quite a lot of this material was new to me.  I’m finding that making these is helping me to discover a few things myself.  That, at the very least, makes it worth doing.  Overall, i’m really quite happy with this one.  However, I do have a couple of problems i’d like to iron out for April’s Office Chart.  For example, I feel the two halves are slightly too separate.  After a more upbeat opening, it’s quite a bit more chilled out by its conclusion.  …  

Secret Cave Office Chart [FEBRUARY 2017]

Yep, I’ll admit with my hands in the air that this is hardly an original idea.  Radiohead have been doing office charts for years, and I can only assume that thousands of hip blogs and magazines have adopted it.  Of course, it doesn’t really matter.  I just thought it would be a fun monthly thing to do.  Besides, I’ve got a High Fidelity-esque predilection for making playlists anyway.  Neither of the Bens have anything to do with this, in case they get ashamed by the choices.  This is just my own personal “writing an article for Secret Cave” playlist.  …  

Pixies – “Head Carrier” [ALBUM REVIEW]

I bloody love the Pixies.  They’ve been one of my favourite bands since I first heard Bone Machine; before my balls had even dropped.  To this day I consider their performance at 2005’s Leeds/Reading festival my finest live event.  To their hordes of vocal admirers, they carry around an enormous legacy everywhere they go.  It’s probably this pressure that has kept their back catalogue compressed and minimal over the years.  Indeed, even with their lengthy hiatus, you’d have expected more than six LPs from a band with the stature and history that the Pixies enjoy.  For me, this has always given them a mystique that greatly adds to their presence.…  

A Moon Shaped Pool on the Bus Before Sunrise

Hear the writers discuss this subject on the Secret Cave Podcast!

Choking down a shit cigarette, mostly paper, the streets are lamplit at 7:30am at the bus station in an underpopulated Latvian dock town.

Sat down amongst old men in flatcaps who instantly fall asleep when the bus shakes over the bridge. I’m listening to A Moon Shaped Pool for the first time, looking over the river and into the sprawling post-Soviet landscape of warehouses, tower blocks, rusty cranes.

Burn the Witch says panic attack and I think I’m probably having one. Familiar tongue numbing fear of motion, scared dog arched up in the corner, stare at the back of the seat.…  

Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

Beyond the static-tined avalanche of white noise and synthesiser synaesthesia, Boards of Canada’s recent Tomorrow’s Harvest L.P. is a surprisingly comprehensive journey towards – and eventually away from – collapse.  But what stands so intriguing in this breakdown?  What leads the release of this record to captivate so easily with giddy addiction?  And just what exactly is being portrayed across the ice-pines and bark-bergs of this somehow begotten, faintly belated landscape?

First, one has to be careful in attempting to view the effort as a concept album in the strictest terms.  Despite its clear thematic loyalties (mostly to secret broadcast, ghostly premonitions and narcissistic evolution), there is no great or detailed tale to be found under the layers of softly structured tone poetry. …  

Jimmy Webb – Galveston

Galveston, named after the coastal Texas city its protagonist apparently calls home, is a song that brings with it a remarkable amount of weight.  One of Jimmy Webb’s most recognisable and trademark tunes, it was given an intense limelight when popularised by Glen Campbell in 1969.  Having found a second wind since as a beautiful, tragic and wistful ditty recorded by Webb himself, its true gravitas was made all the more central when arranged with the right ear.  Campbell’s version being an enjoyable and intelligent slice of pop from a time when its timbre was contemporary, it’s Webb’s re-imaginings that make me want to write about it today.…  

Thom Yorke – The Eraser

My love for Radiohead is something I can trace back to the age of six.  Anyone who knows me well enough is aware that I answered my humble Beano filofax’s query of “Favourite Band?” with “Radiohead”, and my allegiance to them has only grown stronger since.  That’s a background I feel I have to give before spotlighting Thom Yorke’s debut solo effort – something that wasn’t released until deep into Radiohead’s career.  Even I went into The Eraser with more trepidation than excitement, far more worried about its implications for my favourite band and what it meant for their future.

Despite the fact that my very first pirated version of it had the first two seconds of every track cut off, it only took one listen for me to know the release was more than solid.  …  

Mogwai – My Father My King

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When we think of Mogwai, at one point the undisputed champions of post-rock, we usually think of their impressive debut, Young Team, or their extensive work on soundtracks (such as Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait and Les Revenants).  However, Mogwai have quite a number of releases under their belt – many of which are tragically underrated.  One of these is the individual track, My Father My King; a twenty minute long belter released on its lonesome in 2001.  Presumably left off any official album for its length and singularity, it’s found a niche for itself as one of those fandom gems that really deserves a little more attention.…  

The Streets – Original Pirate Material

I was really rather young when Original Pirate Material was released; just coming up on teenage life and embroiled in the noisy cacophony of The White Stripes (who I still hold in high regard).  As such, it took some time for the record to click for me, although I could already relate to the grim, working-class picture that Mike Skinner presents – having grown up around the images he conjures.  I simply found the confrontational nature of such tracks as Don’t Mug Yourself and Sharp Darts to be distasteful and a difficult listen.

The power of its themes and the reality behind them was what compelled me to eventually buy it after a few years growth, considering it an essential album despite not being fully behind its musical context.  …  

The Lost Art of Just Making a Banging Tune

It’s 1997, you’re in some shitty seaside venue in Northern England, and the tension’s mounting. Over the dampened roar of the crowd, MC Storm lifts the mic and looks over a sea of hardcore fans.

“RELEASE YOURSELF!” he roars, the filtered beat building, sounding like it’s coming from next door’s flat party. A dampened vocal line from some far-off ’80s hit emerges through the drug-hazed atmosphere, getting clearer by the second. MC Storm’s on the verge now. Screams “THAT’S WHAT WE LIIIIIKE!”, and now the beat’s absolutely pounding, all synths cranked up.

The lads don’t give a shit what it sounds like.…