Lockdown playlist no21: Blues Rock 2020

May 11, 2020

In Playlist 15 we heard some classic blues rock. Today I wind the clock forward some 50 years to show you that blues rock is still alive and kicking hard. While the music hasn’t changed too drastically, these aren’t bands who are playing it safe trying to relive past glories. They’re playing their hearts out, and the result is bare knuckled exciting music.

The way this has worked out, the first three videos all kick off with men in their automobiles, so ya probably thinking alright, I’ve seen that story before. Get this though: five of the ten videos are of female fronted bands. And none of them seem inclined to show us their automobiles. So make of that what you will.

Left Lane Cruiser – Claw Machine Wizard 2017


Scott H Biram – TrainWrecker 2017

JJ Vicars – Long Way From Home 2017

Charlie Parr – I Ain’t Dead Yet 2017

Catl – Baby, You All Wrong 2018

Katie Knipp – Ya Make It So Hard to Sing the Blues 2018

Daddy Long Legs – Be Gone 2019

Luna and the Moonhounds  – Dancing With the Devil 2019

Sass Jordan – Am I Wrong 2020

Larkin Poe – Holy Ghost Fire 2020




Lockdown playlist no20: an introduction to khöömii (Mongolian throat singing)

May 9, 2020

The Altai mountains are a vast expanse of wild, untouched nature; home to the endangered snow leopard and many plant species unique to the region. The mountains are home to a variety of spiritual knowledge, tradition and ritual. In the lands that surround them, many civilisations have risen and fallen.

Khöömii is thought to have originated among mountain shepherds in western Mongolia. The artists featured here are all from Mongolia and Tuva, a Russian Republic that borders on Mongolia to the north. Khöömii is a highly skilled form of overtone singing, or throat singing. As Alash will show us, it has several variants:

Alash are from the Tuvan capital Kyzyl and named after the Alash river. Like several of the artists here, they’ve done a lot of touring in the US and Europe. I wrote in my book “The world became aware of khöömii almost by accident when in 1993 four young men released an album called 60 Horses In My Herd.” The band, also from Tuva, were called Huun Huur Tu, and they’ve been great ambassadors ever since. Here’s a short film about them.

Khöömii has long been a male preserve. There’s no biological reason for this: among the Inuit people throat singing is a tradition borne by women. Tyva Kyzy – which means Daughters of Tuva –  are Tuva’s first all-female khöömii ensemble. From the clues in the video I’d say this was shot in the Netherlands.

A chorus of khöömii voices is like an orchestra in itself, so I felt that I needed to include some purely vocal performances. Hosoo tells us “I was born in 1971 into a family of khöömii singers from the province of Chandman Sum in Khovd, in the Altai mountain region of Western Mongolia. This is the only region in Mongolia where khöömii is sung and where the khöömii technique is passed on to each generation.”

Altai Khairkhan might disagree: they’re from the neighbouring Uvs province, and their songs reflect a deep attachment to the land. Khairkhan was the name of a mythological spirit living underground, and some of the mountains are named after it. Look out for the little dancing girl in the video.

This is a fascinating 30 minute documentary by Viktoria Mate featuring the Finnish throat singer, Mikko Heikinpoika, who in 2015 attended a throat singing competition in Tuva.

What’s this thing about squatting in fields ? Aian Mongush is from Tuva, and I’m wondering if he’s related to Andrey Mongush, who was part of Huun Huur Tu for a couple of years.

Egschiglen are a band from Mongolia’s capital Ulan Bator. They’re all experienced singers, but the vocal pyrotechnics on this video are provided by the great Amartuwshin Baasandorj.

If after all this you feel inspired to go out and buy some music, I’d recommend the double album An Anthology of Mongolian Khöömii which was brought out in 2017 by Routes Nomades. This, by Orshikh Otgonkhüü, is one of the video recordings that accompanies the album.

Thanks to artists such as these, since the 1990s khöömii has won many admirers in western countries. Until now, this has been largely traditional music, though bands such as Yat-Kha have tried putting it in modern settings. Then in late 2018 something remarkable happened. A Mongolian metal band called The HU released two YouTube videos which have together clocked up over 75 million views worldwide. The songs employ throat singing and traditional instrumentation. GQ Magazine wrote that “If Genghis Khan had chosen to make music rather than burn Eurasia to the ground, it might have sounded something like The Hu.” Perhaps not surprisingly, Genghis Khan is the subject of the band’s fourth video.

Coronavirus has left The HU stranded in Australia, when right now they should have been in the middle of a triumphant US tour.


Lockdown playlist no19: new music from Scotland

May 6, 2020

It’s my pick of the new releases from north of the border. You may notice a bit of a lockdown theme creeping into a couple of the videos.

There’s some top quality music here. Please buy it and support the artists – they need every penny.

This is an indie rock dominated list, but I think we’ll begin with the sound of highland bagpipes.

Ross Miller – The Roke

The Roke is the town tune of the Ancient and Royal Burgh of Linlithgow where Ross was brought up and is the official Town Piper.

Randolph’s Leap – (You Can’t Put The) Brakes On Love

Catholic Action – There Will Always Be A Light

Seil Lien – It’s Love That Brought You Here

Salt House – Mountain Of Gold

Paper Rifles – Headstrong

Gerry Cinnamon – Where We’re Going

Havr – It’s not the end of the world (but you can see it from here)

Neil Scott Pennycook – Meursault (The Song)

“Given the situation, I’ve decided to record the new songs, with drastically different arrangements, with what limited resources I have at hand …  once we’re all allowed back out to play we’ll go into to the studio and record these songs as Meursault (The Band).”

James Yorkston – Beautiful Greer (feat Nancy Elizabeth)

“Domino Records have very kindly allowed me to put together this album of demos, duets, covers and soundtrack work to help grease the wheels a bit during this time of Cholera.”





Lockdown playlist no18: a tribute to Willie Dixon

May 3, 2020

No special occasion for this – just in awe that one man could have written so many memorable songs.

Most of these songs were originally performed by Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, or Willie Dixon himself. I’ve steered clear not only of the originals, but also of covers by blues artists and the most famous cover versions. We start with a quarantine recording from last week, and as a little bonus, we finish with a moving performance by the big man.

There’s so much that I never knew about Willie Dixon. He was once a professional boxer. He played bass on many of Chuck Berry’s hits. I didn’t even know that he’d written a stirring antiwar song. Or that decades earlier, as a young black man in Chicago, he refused to go and fight in World War II – ‘Why should I go to fight to save somebody that’s killing me and my people?’. For this, he was jailed for 10 months.

Robyn Bennett – I Just Want to Make Love to You Quarantine version 

Van Morrison – I Love The Life I Live

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – You can’t judge a book by its cover

The Jorgensens – If The Sea Was Whiskey 

Santana – I Ain’t Superstitious (feat Jonny Lang)

Scott H Biram – Backdoor Man

Eilen Jewell – You’ll Be Mine

Catherine Russell – I Don’t Care Who Knows

Curtis Stigers – My babe

The Quireboys – I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man


Willie Dixon – It Don’t Make Sense (You Can’t Make Peace)



Lockdown playlist no17: Celtic Harp

May 2, 2020

Perfect music to mellow out to, from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall – plus a couple of curveballs at the end.


Laoise Kelly – Cailín Lus an Chrom Chinn (Fáilte Uí Cheallaigh 2015)

Michelle Mulcahy with Louise Mulcahy – The Green Mountain| Galway Rambler | A View From Across The Valley


Catriona McKay – Trow’s Jig (White Nights 2010)  

Rachel Newton – Chaidh Mo Dhonnchadh Dhan Bheinn/Proud Maisrie (Here’s My Heart Come Take It 2016)


Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita – Clarach (SOAR 2018)

Delyth & Angharad : Diddanwch Gruffydd ap Cynan (Llinyn Arian 2018)


Sarah Deere-Jones – Miri it is (Wild Harp 2015)


Lina Bellard – Roshan (Toutes les filles s’appellent Jeanne 2020)


Ana Crisman (music from the album Por Mi Amor al Arte by Rancapino Chico 2019)


Joanna Newsom – Esme (Have One On Me 2010)



Lockdown playlist no16: Jungle Drum & Bass

April 30, 2020

If The Clash had been starting out 40 years later, this is the kind of music that I could imagine them getting into.

It feels edgy and non-commercialised. The percussive beats can at times be moody, even menacing. Dance to it if you want, but this isn’t dance music that keeps to any simple formula. The artists have licence to exercise their imagination, and the music is always evolving, and heading off in different directions. There’s a lot that comes out tagged as jungle or DnB that I wouldn’t recommend at all, but then you get brilliant stuff like this as well. This selection I’d describe as jungle DnB strongly influenced by Jamaican dub and ragga/dancehall riddims. Historically, the home of DnB has been very much in the UK, but that’s beginning to change now, and there are Spanish and French artists for instance featured here.

Veak – Mad A Road (South Yard & Friends Vol 1 2020)

Speaker Louis – Nuff Niceness (DEEPIN073 – Deep In The Jungle Anthems 6 LP 2020)

Selecta J-Man – Big Bout Ya (The Mixtape Volume 3 2019) 

Objectiv – Bad Karma (feat Haribo)  (Terra Firma: Vol 3 2019)

My Selecta – Get Up (DEEPINLP001 – This Is Jungle Music 2019 LP)

Karlixx & Kursiva – Original Nuttah (2018)

Duburban – Sweeter Victory (PPJ Jungle Dubs, Vol. 1 2020)

Dub Phizix & Strategy – Deh (The We Push On EP 2020)

Chase & Status feat. New Kidz – Bubble (Original Mix)  (Rtrn II Jungle 2019)

Boombassbrothers – Pompadour (South Yard & Friends Vol 1 2020)



Lockdown playlist no15: Blues Rock

April 27, 2020

Something to cheer you up on a Monday. Apologies if you’ve got all these in your collection already – I may well be doing another list at some point of contemporary blues rock.

The Rolling Stones – Down Home Girl  (The Rolling Stones no 2 1965)

Cream – Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (Fresh Cream 1966)

John Mayall & the Blues Breakers – It Ain’t Right (Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton 1966)

Juicy Lucy – Who do you love ? (Juicy Lucy 1969)

Led Zeppelin – Heartbreaker (Led Zeppelin II 1969)

The Doors – Roadhouse Blues  (Morrison Hotel 1970)

The Allman Brothers – One Way Out (At Fillmore East 1971)

John Lee Hooker & Canned Heat – Whiskey & Wimmen (Hooker ‘N Heat 1971)

Janis Joplin – Move Over (Pearl 1971)

ZZ Top – Just Got Paid (Rio Grande Mud 1972)