Monday, 26 November 2012

Rough Trade Shops Counter Culture 12

The annual selection of music, albums and artists that proved favourite with the staff and customers at Rough Trade Shops in 2012.

Rough Trade Shops Top 10 of 2012 is represented by Grimes (4AD) peachy synthetic pop, Django Django’s (Because) psychedelic art rock and John Talabot’s (Permanent Vacation) superior pop-house alongside a confessional from Alabama Shakes (Rough Trade) and some idiosyncratic rain-folk from Damien Jurado (Secretly Canadian). Allo Darlins (Fortuna POP!) giddy indiepop, Toy’s (Heavenly) contemporary motorik, Goat’s (Rocket) kaleidoscopic rhythms and alt-J’s (Infectious) innovative alt-rockism further enhance that list.

The beginning of this double-disc collection follows the Counter Culture tradition of starting slow and low with the beautiful, intense ‘10am Gare Du Nord’ by Keaton Henson (Oak Ten) which precedes the afore-mentioned Alabama Shakes and Damien Jurado tracks. Not for the first time, Phil Spector casts a shadow over pop this year, and this notion is demonstrated by the inclusion of a trio of artists new to Rough Trade this year – Crybaby (Helium), Jagwar Ma (The Blue Rider) and Opossom (FIRE).

Before CD1 flames out with the incendiary riff-age of METZ (Sub Pop), supported ably by Goat and storming debut singles from the post-punk-influenced Savages (Pop Noire) and Palma Violets (Rough Trade), the track list takes a detour through new formulas for the dancefloor created by Stubborn Heart (One Little Indian), Kindness (Female Energy) and Daphni aka Dan Snaith from Caribou (Jiaolong), then segues into an alt-rock sequence beginning with alt-J and Liars (Mute) before further mutation into a duo of crackin’, Kraut-rockin’ work-outs from Public Service Broadcasting (Test Card) and BEAK>(Invada).

CD2 is where extreme creativity is exhibited by adventurous musicians. Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras collaborate with the legendary Congos and their ‘ICON GIVE THANK’ album (FRKWYS) is a ground-breaking fusion of improvised composition and Jamaican dub. Daughn Gibson (White Denim) layers loops from old rockabilly records and combines them with his original vocals while Chromatics (Italians Do It Better) cover a Neil Young classic in their dry and minimal style. Post-industrial legends NON /Boyd Rice (Mute) and Throbbing Gristle / X-TG (Industrial) have important records released this year, the former returning to noise terrorism like he’s never been away, while Carter / Tutti / Christopherson (R.I.P) have produced a stunning re-imagination of Nico’s ‘Desert Shore’ with vocals from Antony, Marc Almond and Blixa Bargeld amongst others.

Zebra Katz’s (Mad Decent) ‘Ima Read’ is a slice of capricious high-school horror-core, blending rap, minimal techno and the world of Vogue-ing in equal measure and is truly unique. Debut EPs from Diamond Version (Mute/ Raster-Noton), TNGHT (Warp) and Acidliner (Gangsigns) have been massively popular on the shopfloor. All three of whom subtly mess with electronics in brand new ways and they, along with the Kindness, Daphni and Talabot remind us that 2012 was also a good year on the dancefloor

The big hitters from Grimes and Talabot follow, before we introduce the closing section of this year’s comp, a quintet of truly innovative electronic and avant-pop compositions from Julia Holter (RVNG), Halls and Vinyl Williams (both on No Pain In Pop), Group Rhoda (Night School) and the maverick Dan Deacon (Domino). These artists provide a fitting conclusion to the compilation as they, alongside us, attempt to shine a light on where we go next. 

All this for only £9.99. Order your copy HERE...

Brautigan Book Club End of Year...

Those of a literary bent could do a hell of a lot worse this week than head down to Bethnal Green Working Men's Club for the year end shindig with the excellent Brautigan Book Club.

Richard Brautigan is a genuine counter cultural icon, and this brilliant monthly gathering has been spreading the word with verve and imagination all year. This special year end event will feature Martin Carr, Salena Godden and Nathan Penlington amongst others.

Full details of the line up here, ticket booking here.

Monday, 19 November 2012


Rough Trade East are pleased to announce an exhibition of Ralph Steadman's Extinct Boids Suite, 12 images specially created from his and Ceri Levy's book, "Extinct Boids". Exhibited for the first time together, the images are Ralph and Ceri's recent favourites from the collection of boids that have been created over the last year and a half. These boids have been delighting audiences since their arrival into our world and bring their homeland of Toadstool Island closer to us. They all have that distinctive trademark Steadman humour about them and will be accompanied by text and information on their creation by Ceri. So come and marvel at the Needless Smut, the Dodo and the Blue Slut and meet some of their extraordinary friends.The show will run from Monday 3rd December until Sunday 6th January.

Read Robert Rubbish's (one of our past exhibitors in the shop) review of 'Extinct Boids' here...

Rough Trade's Top 10 Albums of 2012

It's that time of year again to announce to the world what our Top 10 albums are for 2012. In reverse order...

Frank Ocean's free-flow barritone is as strong as any key soul vocalist from the past few decades. Throw in the production to match, from true 70's jazz-funk legends, to modern day neo R&B starlets, to the hip hop structure of beats and skits, this album expertly transcends musical eras, with conviction and without ever sounding contrived. Lyrically it pulls no punches around a variety of adult subjects, making the songwriting as broad as it is sonically. As respectfully retro as much as it is the sound of the future. Timeless.

The hype for Alabama Shakes was like no other in 2012 and this album more than lived up to it on it's release in April. A stunningly beautiful and intoxicating collection of throwback soul, southern rock and r&b grooves. However it's 22 year old singer and guitarist Brittany Howard's voice that makes this really special. part soft and sweet and part full of passion and soul - it recalls Janis, Aretha, and even Otis. She really is a true star and this is from someone who only quit her post office job last November.

Rough Trade exclusive with a bonus 12 track remix cd. Django Django are mining a seam of experimental art rock that hasn't been struck so well since the heady days of The Beta Band, their unique blend of guitar pop, electronica and melodic excellence has taken them to places that most bands wouldn't reach in twice the time. Glam rock oompa loompas at a rave.

Award winning debut album from this quartet, who have successfully managed to incorporate countless music genres, production techniques and sensibilities, whilst still sounding effortlessly at ease and fully in control of their self-made musical identities. From the epic indie-pop hooks, to the folktronic sentimentality, to the bottom end of the beats and the art rock synths, the albums references are immeasurable, both sonically and literary, without sounding too busy. These combined elements make this an album you'll instantly remember and one you'll want to revisit often.

Rough Trade version with an exclusive 6 track cd of vinyl only cuts and b-sides. Damien Jurado's recent work with Richard Swift has invigorated an already impressive body of work, fleshing out the song-writer's nuanced sketches with rich and original textures. This year's album is a real high water mark, a remarkable monument to the power of good, honest craft and artistic pursuit; an all too rare occurrence in this age of pop idols, reality stars and hype machine hipsters.

Rough Trade exclusive with bonus cd featuring 5 tracks recorded at Goat's first ever live show at The Lexington. Truly psychedelic - the debut album from Goat is a wonderous affair, it mixes psych rock freak out, funk and voodoo inspired rhythms but all the while managing absolutely huge killer pop hooks. Play it loud for maximum effect. Goat - the first sonic ritual

Rough Trade exclusive with bonus cd featuring six cover versions of AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Ramones, Darren Hayman, Eux Autres and The Go Betweens. A heady mix of wide-eyed indie energy married to a superlative lyrical eye for detail, a bittersweet emotional spectrum featuring Elizabeth Morris' crystal clear, aching vocal performance transcend any notions of twee-pop stereotypes, to create a firmly grounded, acutely observed and very human work of art.

Rough Trade exclusive with a bonus 6 track cd 'Toy – Live at the BBC. A monumental slab of sonic experimentation anchored with some effortlessly huge hooks and swirling maelstroms of guitars, vintage synths and reverb drenched vocals Toy combine influences with an ease and maturity that belie their tender years. The rock band for the age may well have emerged.

Rough Trade exclusive with a bonus 9 track cd featuring new tracks, b-sides and mixes from Bullion, Kenton Slash, Bostro Pesopeo and Pachanga Boys plus updated artwork. John Talabot has triumphantly intertwined sunburnt balearic boogie with touches of filtered French funk, alongside the rain-sheltering bleakness of British bass after-dark, the shady warehouse depths of early German deep house, and cinematic synth-heavy soundcapes worthy of the Italians - landing itself as a finished piece on the very aptly-named permanent vacation label. The result is an album which is a relatively chirpy multi-Euro dance-in-the-dark at first glance, but undoubtedly harbours a much more heads-down sense of darkness under it's surface. Exceptional.

Rough Trade exclusive with bonus cd. A unique and thrilling sound world in which to lose yourself, hazy, reverb-drenched layers of synth, married to theatrical art-rock hooks and driving post-punk rhythms all buzzing with a direct, spontaneous energy, incredibly and expertly manufactured by one pair of hands and ears, with a brilliant, original and effervescent imagination. The five tracks that make up the bonus disc include three hard-to-find gems recorded in the same period as the album itself alongside two brand new remixes. 'Ambrosia' originally appeared on the Canadian LP pressing of the album, 'Christmas Song' was a digital-only bonus track and 'Song For Ric', a collaboration with Majical Cloudz, appeared on a compilation put together to help launch the music website Ad Hoc. The remixes include Skip's take on 'Genesis' and Baardsen's reworking of 'Be A Body. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


London has no shortage of shows or promoters, and every night of the week you can go out and see great music in interesting, esoteric venues that fire the imagination. Eat Your Own Ears has consistently delivered great acts in great spaces to music lovers across this great city, and that's without mentioning the now much beloved Field Day every summer.

We've listed a whole raft of upcoming gigs below, so you can see what's happening... we're expecting great nights out with Mark Kozelek, whose new album is a firm shop favourite and a beautiful slice of wry melancholia; the usual live brilliance of Adam Green, a must-see-live artist; some high brow pagan folk-pop from the soon to be huge Stealing Sheep; a great US songwriting double bill from Andrew Bird and Micah P Hinson; literate, delicate, artful music courtesy of Shearwater; and three HUGE shows from bands that need no hype-men in Django Django, SAVAGES and Gotye. Get info, tickets and good times HERE.

Andrew Bird + Micah P Hinson
Roundhouse, 8th November
Tickets available here

Clock Opera + Bright Light Bright Light
Heaven, 8th November
Tickets available here

Mark Kozelek St Giles
St Giles, 10th November
Tickets available here

Lotus Plaza + His Clancyness
Electrowerkz, 10th November
Tickets available here

Gotye + Special Guests
Hammersmith Apollo, 12th and 13th November
Tickets available here

Adam Green + Binki Shapiro
Bush Hall, 14th November
Tickets available here

Shearwater + Will Samson
Garage, 24th November
Tickets available here

Stealing Sheep + special guests
Bush Hall, 10th December
Tickets available here

Django Django - late show
Shepherds Bush Empire, 21st December
Tickets available here

Electric Ballroom, 21st February
Tickets available here