Album Reviews

Various – Late Night Tales: Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders

(Azuli) UK release date: 27 October 2008

Late Night Tales: Matt Helders The latest offering from the Late Night Tales series – and a fine series it is too – sees Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders compose a compilation of his favourite songs. After all, he needs something to do while a certain Mr Turner is off gallivanting with Miles Kane in The Last Shadow Puppets.

You know the format here – it’s like a mix tape. You just select your favourite songs, and put them all on one handy album. Late Night Tales, however, offer a personal insight into the musical preferences of manifold musical pioneers, and boast an increasingly enviable back catalogue including Four Tet, Groove Armada, and Turin Brakes.

Notably, Matt Helders’ selection is devoid of the half-expected bombardment of indie music, but instead made up of soulful Concrete Schoolyard hip hop on a piss up with some old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, with occasional pit stops at indefinable, unknown weirdness that typically exemplifies the beauty of the Late Night Tales series – to expose unfamiliar music.

The opening four songs are a case in point. Goblin, Yamasuki, Zeph & Azeem – how many Arctic Monkeys fans have even heard of these artists, let alone own any of their records? Perhaps they should – Yamasuki’s Yama Yama is an early, playful standout track. I have no idea what language they’re singing in – but the melodies are playfully tempting, disarmingly searing themselves into your brain.

As we merge seamlessly into Zeph and Azeem’s awesomely addictive Play The Drum, it’s clear that this Arctic Monkey is in charge of a diverse, and bloody interesting record collection. Next up is DJ Format. Quality. The Black Keys‘ beardy blues rock, The Stooges‘ Dirt, and Little Barrie‘s Free Salute provide ample cushioning for the musical blunder of Helders’ cover of Livin’ Joy‘s mid 90s dance ‘classic’ Dreamer (don’t pretend you don’t remember it). With an irritating repeated drum sequence, and no great deviance from, or interesting alternative offered to the original, this is best left avoided.

The ghoulish surf-rock of Johnny And The Hurricances gives way to the second half of the compilation, whose highlights include Minnie Riperton‘s Reasons, Roots Manuva‘s Dreamy Days, and Modeselektor‘s The Dark Side Of The Sun. It is the nostalgic inclusion of the spine-tingling Luniz song I Got 5 On It that defines the second half of the compilation. Still sounding as dark, fresh, and unnerving as ever, it’s a true modern classic.

Late Night Tales are onto a winner. Giving the music-loving public an insight into the musical preferences of some of their favourite artists is/was a gap in the market that they have successfully filled. Discovering unknown artists with every release, Helders’ compilation is no different, possessing a surprising affinity with old school hip hop. I bet that he looks good on the dance floor.

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