The Hickensian is the journal of Jon Hicks, one half of Hicksdesign.

Slowdive performing "Golden Hair" at Pitchfork

I love this video of Slowdive performing “Golden Hair” -at the Pitchfork Music Festival last year. The live version of the song extends the ending into an atmospheric jam session, combined with a luscious low golden evening light. Its a thing of escapist beauty that I watch as a tonic.

At least until yesterday, when Leigh pointed how much the extended part sounds like Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and along with my daughter Samantha, proceeded to sing those lyrics all over it. Families eh?!

Troika #7: Donuts

Troika #7: Donuts

I discovered the music of J Dilla (aka James Dewitt Yancey or Jay Dee) by going backwards. I’m a big fan of the band Phantogram, and when they mentioned their sound uses ‘J Dilla beats’ I looked back on his extensive back catalog and found his influence everywhere. He’s one of hip hop’s most influential producers and artists, but his career was cut short at just 32 after battling the incurable blood disease, lupus. He’s produced for people like Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes and Pharcyde but was a prolific artist in his own right. I’ve got a lot to catching up to do.

The three tracks I’ve chosen represent his range – one he produced, one of his own, and one that was a homage. As Erykah Badu says in the last track “This one’s for Dilla“…

  1. ‘Let’s Ride’ – Q Tip (produced by, and with beats from, J Dilla)
  2. ‘So Far to Go’ (Instrumental) – J Dilla
  3. ‘The Healer’ – Erykah Badu

There’s no narration this week, as I’ve got a stinking cold, so just enjoy the music without any waffle from me! If you want to learn more about J Dilla, a good starting point is the documentary Still Shining on Vimeo.

Direct Download: Troika #7: Donuts (mp3)

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All music featured is the copyright of the respective artists.

Troika #6: My Turn to be Poorly

Troika #6: My Turn to be Poorly

The theme for this Troika is a little more esoteric than normal – it’s comedians, singing parody songs, in the style of other artists. Weird Al Yankovic has made a whole career out of this, but these are maybe slightly less well known…

  1. ‘My Turn to be Poorly’ – Brian Appleton
    Brian Appleton is Graham Fellows, also known as John Shuttleworth, Jilted John, Dave Tordoff and host of other comic creations. Here his media-studies lecturer persona attempts to show that a song he wrote when he was ill was the inspiration for the nasal, whiney style of The Smiths. The man is a genius, and a Troika on John Shuttleworth’s music alone is due.
  2. ‘Unisex Chipshop’ – Bill Bailey
    In a tribute to Billy Bragg, Bill sings about the oppression of the girl that works in the chippy, and the “sexual fascism that was lurking, round the gherkins”.
  3. ‘Rodeohead’ – Hard’n Phirm
    A medley of Radiohead songs by LA Comedy Duo Hard’n Phirm, performed in a bluegrass style!

Also, I’ve now made my own RSS feed for Troika, as well as submitted it to iTunes. See the new links below!

Direct Download: Troika #6: My Turn to be Poorly (mp3)

Subscribe to Troika (RSS) or via iTunes

All music featured is the copyright of the respective artists.

A Taste of the Track

Photo by Leigh Hicks

This week I went for a Track Taster Session at the Olympic Velodrome at Lee Valley in London – a present from my lovely wife Leigh. Track cycling involves riding a fixed gear bike, and this was my first time – no coasting, no brakes and a high gear. To slow you change your pedalling accordingly, and try to kick back, upon which you can really feel the bike kicking back against you.

When we arrived, the camber of the track at the highest points was rather scary. I couldn’t see how it could be done without slipping off. The tutor was great though and once over the initial slow laps, I was more confident. Riding the sprinters line was actually really exciting – as long as you kept the pace up. Towards the end of the hour session my legs were starting to hurt, and the advice was to stay off the top line once you felt tired – otherwise you would slip.

It was really, really fun. Once you trained yourself to not worry about anyone sudden braking (because they couldn’t) it was exhilarating. While I’m not going to do the next 3 courses to become accredited (that’s if you want to race Track) I would definitely do it again.

If you’re planning on doing the taster session, I would really recommend hiring shoes, or if you use Look Keo cleats, bringing your own. I plumped for using trainers with toeclips and straps and it was a bloody nightmare. Not only very uncomfortable, but squeaky too, and my left foot kept trying to come out. At one point it did, and I had no choice but to let the toeclip scrape along the track floor until I could finish the lap. I wish they’d said it was so much harder work than cleats.

Trying fixed didn’t make me want to add a fixie to my current stable of bikes. It’s not something I would ride around town, but I would ride it again in a velodrome.

Troika #5: New Gaze

Troika #5: New Gaze

Back in the mid-90’s the British Music Press had decided that Shoegaze music was finished, and that if you weren’t Britpop or Grunge you deserved to be mocked. Bands like Slowdive disbanded and explored other genres, but it had left enough quality work to inspire the next generation of bands, nastily called ‘Nu gaze’.

We start with ‘Blackout’ by Amusement parks on fire, a great one for the ‘wall of sound’ guitars. The next one is a little different, more poppy perhaps. Alcest are a french band that I’ve recently come across, and they started life as a Black Metal band. They then mixed in elements of Shoegaze and invented yet another sub-genre called ‘Deathgaze’ that spawned bands like Deafhaven. By their last album all traces of Black Metal had gone, and the result is a rather uplifting pop song. Its one that I’ve had on constant loop since I discovered it.

To finish we’ll have The Cheatahs, and a track from their new Sunne EP called ‘Controller’. Happy Easter everyone!

  1. ‘Blackout’ – Amusement Parks on Fire
  2. ‘Opale’ – Alcest
  3. ‘Controller’ – Cheetahs

Direct Download: Troika #5: New Gaze (mp3)

Subscribe to Troika (RSS) or via iTunes

All music featured is the copyright of the respective artists.

The Hickensian is the journal of Jon Hicks, one half of the creative partnership Hicksdesign. Take a look at the work we do.

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