Monday, 22 December 2008
In March this year, then mayor Ken Livingstone confirmed rumours that the theatre was to be bulldozed to make way for the Crossrail underground line, despite loud protests and a petition of more than 35,000 signatures. Livingstone alleged at the time that a new live music venue would be built in the area to replace the Astoria, but will Boris Johnson honour that promise.... don't hold your breath.
In a double blow, nearby flea pit the Metro is also to close. Organizer of their infamous Blow Up night, Paul Tunkin, told NME, "At present we are looking for new premises to relocate the venue to but have yet to find one suitable. Ultimately it is another nail in the coffin for central London's live music and club scene."
You'd been hard pushed to find a music fan in greater London who has never been to the Astoria, first built as pickle factory and converted into a cinema in 1927. The legendary venue has hosted early gigs by the likes of Nirvana and Radiohead and is first choice for big names such as the Rolling Stones who are looking for a more intimate spot than their usual stadiums and cattle sheds.
Barry Hyde, the lead singer of the Futureheads, spoke thus of the venue: "Venues should be dirty, they should be a bit smelly because smelly things happen in venues. Sweaty people had fun and the Astoria was always something you’d look forward to."
And the last ever party at the Astoria is going to be hosted by..... Manumission?!? You mean infamous Ibiza party night Manumission? Really?!? Apparently there's going to be "a fusion of rock and dance acts" (for "dance" read "90s era rave") and "a carnival of cabaret", presumably with their standard "bleeding edge sexuality". See you there... or not.
Thursday, 18 December 2008
The problem with, and beauty of, this method was that the selection was pretty broad including artists I’d never heard of, records I’d decided I just wouldn’t like, some obvious inclusions, drum and bass, releases from 2007(?), and John Legend. I certainly didn’t predict the results.
I’ll cut to the chase. The list.
The Album of the Year!!
TV On The Radio ‘Dear Science’
Second Best Album of the Year!!
Gang Gang Dance ‘Saint Dymphna’
Third Best Album of the Year!!
Abe Vigoda ‘Skeleton’
Fleet Foxes ‘S/T’
Lil’ Wayne ‘Tha Carter III’
Metronomy ‘Nights Out’
MGMT ‘Oracular Spectacular’
Vampire Weekend ‘S/T’
Zombie Zombie ‘A Land For Renegades’
Fourth Best Album of the Year!!
Benga ‘Diary of an Afro Warrior’, Born Ruffians ‘Red, Yellow, Blue’, Danny Byrd ‘Supersize’, Death Cab For Cutie ‘Narrow Stairs’, Deerhunter ‘Microcastles’, Elbow ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’, Empire of the Sun ‘S/T’, Flight of the Concourds ‘S/T’, Goldfrapp ‘7th Tree’, Grace Jones ‘Hurricane’, Harvey Milk ‘Life… The Best Game In Town’, The Hold Steady ‘Stay Positive’, John Legend ‘Evolver’, Jose James ‘Dreamer’, Justice ‘The Cross’, Kanye West ‘808s & Heartbreak’, Kings of Leon ‘Only By The Night’, Langhorne Slim ‘S/T’, London Elektricity ‘Syncopated City’, Marnie Stern ‘This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That’, Neon Neon ‘Stainless Style’, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds ‘Dig Lazarus, Dig!’, Radiohead ‘In Rainbows’, Rosin Murphy ‘Overpowered’, These New Puritans ‘Beat Pyramid’, Veronica Maggio ‘Och vinnaren är’, Vetiver ‘Thing of the Past’, White Denim ‘Workout Holiday’, Why? ‘Alopecia’
That's right, 29 albums drawn for 4th place.
What is clear is that 'Best of...' lists are a good example of bad journalism, wasting ten pages in an issue of The Word or NME just to rehash reviews from earlier in the year. You never agree with their No. 1, often it's tough to agree with anything in their top 5 depending on the publication, even when it's unbiased - metacritic summarised Coldplay as the best album in 2008 and it's not even in our list neither is Bon Iver.
Hopefully what our list will do is remind some of us of those albums we never got round to getting - I finally bought Neon Neon after weeks of drifting in and out of Sister Ray Records - and convince us to give some time to those we cast aside - I will give Fleet Foxes a chance, I promise.
Thank you so much to everyone who dedicated 5 minutes of their time.
Never thought it would happen?
Wondered what it would sound like if it did?
Been to this link yet at prettymuchamazing.com?
Peter Gabriel covers Vampire Weekend
Friday, 12 December 2008
Although not on the same level as Dylans electric Judaic betrayal, Jay Reatards musical progression on Matador Singles 08 has been met with a din of discontent by a selection of fans still content with him smashing out his manic Memphis spazzed-out punk. You know, that same spazzed-out punk Reatards relentlessly fired out since the age of 15.
Now 28, Lyndsey (real surname), has used ‘Matador Singles 08’ to showcase his new direction of musical evolution and venture into the shiny world of pop. Presumably staking a claim as the long lost protégé of Berlin Bowie as he does it.
In some quarters it’s been described as wimpish-twee and a sacrilegious act against the punk ethics of which Reatard has abided to for many years. In others it’s been hailed as Jay Reatard’s coming of age and a record that’s both brave and entirely inspiring.
The album is, in itself, a brave concept that from beginning to end is devoid of all convention. Comprised of six singles, B-sides in tow, and a cover of Deerhunter’s ‘Fluorescent Grey’, ‘Singles 08’ not once follows the conventional path of a purposely made album.
Instead of a subject matter unravelling as each song passes, it unequivocally documents the rise and growth of an artist in transition. All the singles featured are the six released in the short space of 6 months by Matador and feature on the album in the same order they featured in your local record shop. Or, in true Jay Reatard fashion, on Ebay for extortionate sums.
Much in the same vein as ‘Singles 06’, ‘See Saw’ and ‘Screaming Hand’ explode out the traps and ensures ‘Singles 08’ comes on like an extension of its older, more dangerous brother .As does, rather disappointingly, ‘An Ugly Death’. A track only memorable for its nerve shredding repetitive lyrical delivery ‘For you, for me, for all to seeeee’. Shudder.
Its heartening then that ‘Always Wanting More’ shows the first sign of Reatard rearing his pop head before next track ‘You mean nothing to me’ indicates said evolution with a bewildering blend of pure pop sensibility that rides a wave of punk undertones, ultimately providing the record with its foundation to manoeuvre it’s way between the genres; punk, pop-punk, pop and twee-pop. Phew.
Portrayed with a pinch of paranoia and teeming with tribal, trance-like drums ‘Fluorescent Grey’ marks the albums middle ground and acts as somewhat of an interlude. Written by Reatard’s buddies and fellow compatriots Deerhunter, the fourth single of six, serves as a departure from the first three by clocking in at 4 minutes and 40 seconds. A mere marathon compared to previous efforts, and an expedition compared to ‘Trapped Here’, ‘Hiding Hole’ and ‘DOA’ (Dead on Arrival). The blistering salvo to the second half of '08 Singles’.
At just over five minutes combined and complete with fuzzy, fraught and unrelenting venomous riffs the trio come on like the Reatard of old and allow for a moment to reminisce of a time when bashing out Ramone style punk-nuggets was all we expected from the man from Memphis. Now of course its nuggets of a pop variety we want and right on cue they’re perfectly formed in what’s arguably the strongest indication of Reatard’s growth as a pop-star in the making.
Heartbreaking, intimate and painfully revealing, ‘No Time’ unravels the hardship of being on the road and out of love. “It seems I never have the time to make my mind feel fine. Just locked inside this glass box looking out the window for you”. Set to the backdrop of an acoustic guitar it’s a heart on the sleeve moment that, while taking time to adjust too, will melt the hearts of new and old fans alike.
As will the twee tinged ‘You Were Sleeping’ a continuation of acoustic Reatard and as Bowie as we knew he could be. ‘I’m Watching You’ an ode to New Zealand songsmiths The Tall Dwarfs effortlessly rounds off the album in entwining, melodic style whilst slipping in the word “C***” to remind us all that yes he may have evolved into a pop star but he’s still a hooligan at heart. A sweet and tender one at that mind.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
If that sounds vitriolic, I apologise. Upset The Rhythm are just an amazing group of kids who over the years have developed a knack for coaxing some of the most amazing niche American artists across the pond to play gigs in some of the most interesting venues I'd never been to. Now they have brought over Abe Vigoda (see scatter-shot-spunk-tropic-aholics and other creative adjectives) and Mika Miko on the same bill. And I wish it had been me.
The three piece, Anavan, warmed up the church hall style venue with their odd brand of drummer/laptop led punk and gave the first and last offering of synth to the event.
Without ever looking like they were ready to play David Reichardt, Gerardo Guerrero, Michael Vidal and Juan Velazquez - the boys from Abe Vigoda - piped up. Crashing headlong into album opener 'Dead City/Waste Wilderness' it was clear that they've lovingly crafted a sound that bears no comparisons. Too uncontrollable to be compared to Vampire Weekend, too twee for No Age and, in fact, indefinable amongst their peers. Sadly something was lost at The Dome. The popping delayed guitar lost to the acoustics and all but drowning the stand out vocals of 'Bear Face' and 'The Garden'. Still the presence of Abe Vigoda's album, 'Skeleton', was clear and alive, laced together brilliantly by Guerrero's astonishing drumming and visually by the dexterity of Vidal, Reichardt and Velazquez. The performance was never going to be a verbatim reproduction of something so taught and precise, it pushed away the glistening jewel case to expose the pits and code of a band that perhaps had to reign in a ferocious beast to put on record. Vidal assumed the role of unleashing the beast back at the crowd until the climactic final throes of their set when Velazquez encouraged the feedback and delay crescendo we'd all hoped was coming.
Anyway, Elastica wore their influences on their sleeve in much the same way as Mika Miko. A core diet of American hardcore bands manifested in an transatlantic new-wave punk (hold on, Elastica referred to themselves as the new-wave of new-wave, this is going too far) akin to the Bush Tetras and Au Pairs, often compared to the Slits - although the cod-reggae, dub housing of Ari Up's amazons is missing from Miko's bag. On stage the band are beautiful, full of awkward youthful posturing and androgynous charm. Michelle (guitar), Jessica (bass) and Seth (boy) provide a veteran turn as the backing band to ping-ponging vocalists who goad the fighting crowd and jerk through a collection of immaculate punk.
It can't be avoided mentioning that Jennifer's telephone microphone appears gimmicky but does add a characteristic layer to the girl's live performance. It could have been a melange of sloppy downtown LA via Hackney punk yet they slipped confident Ramones covers in with stand out songs like 'Business Cats' and as Jenna broke out the saxophone later on and exclaimed "45 minutes? This must be the longest gig we've ever done" it was obvious that Mika Miko are not a band to be cast aside by comparisons, derivatives and scenes. They really shone above a roster of apparently mature artists and might themselves mature into punk regency.
Monday, 24 November 2008
New song? Notice too that there is a 'part 2' which should be up there now.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Hailing simultaneously from Glasgow, Liverpool and Bulgaria, Ladytron have been peddling ominous electro since 1999. Their most recent album Velocifero has garnered some ecstatic reviews, vaulting the band from supporting Nine Inch Nails to selling out numerous dates on their own worldwide tour.
Alas the London date of said tour doesn’t quite get off to an explosive start. Thanks to the misjudged bass rattling our ribs and overwhelming pretty much everything else coming from the stage, opener Black Cat doesn’t quite pack the punch it does on record. The exotic Bulgarian lyrics do manage to lend a considerable degree of foreboding to the opening proceedings, but Ladytron fail to blow the crowd away as they had probably hoped.
As they work their way through Velocifero, the band maintain an icy aloofness and fail to conjure up much in the way of stage presence. Although no doubt crucial to their dark and brooding image, this approach means the first half of the set feels oddly flat. Whacky, attention-grabbing stage antics are obviously not what makes a good live show, but I had expected Ladytron’s futuristic electroclash to be more engaging. Not a smile, not a move, they could well be robots, but then that’s kind of the idea with the ‘tron…
Their cold otherworldliness is exemplified by Ghosts, in which Helen Marnie dispassionately and unapologetically articulates ‘doesn’t mean I’m sorry’. Her flawless diction and nasal voice are quite distinctive and a linchpin of Ladytron’s sound, but lack any glimmer of humanness. Tracks like Runaway, however, reveal the emotional vulnerability beneath the detached exterior, the lyrics detailing twisted relationships and emotionally desolate lovers.
It is only as the show passes the halfway mark that some of the magic (and light) of Ladytron’s music starts to shine through. Kletva sounds positively dreamy and evocative, whereas in set-closer Seventeen singers Marnie and Aroyo really start to look like the formidable team they’re often billed as, alternating between staring each other in the face and looking blankly out into the crowd in a seamless visual display of cohesion.
It is in the encore song Destroy Everything You Touch that the band finally seem to take off, having spent the entire rest of the set slowing and ponderously gathering momentum. Marnie for one leaps up and down and finally dares reveal that she’s enjoying herself.
Ladytron certainly have the tunes and by all accounts the touring experience, but alas this cyborg takes a long time to warm up.
Photo by Hidden Shine on Flickr
Saturday, 22 November 2008
So the perfect opportunity then to stay indoors and submerge yourself in the best new music out there.
Here’s the first of many Is There Anything Else...Playlists to keep away the no money, recession biting, shivering like a shitting dog blues.
Oh Brooklyn. Not content with giving us Vampire Weekend, MGMT and Yeasayer. A whole set of new bands are set to steal the hearts of music lovers once again. Chairlift? Genre-hopping, psychedelic brilliance. Check them out at Madame Jo Jo’s Nov 25th.
Not from Brooklyn but the other hub of creativity over the pond, LA. Born from The Smell scene, their scatter-punk bullets will leave a little wet patch in your panties and heart as heavy as a ten-ton truck. Catch them at
The Dome, Tufnell Park Dec 2nd.
Theatrical, biblical, essential. Frederick Blood-Royale and his disciples are making melodramatic music like it’s the end of the world as we know it. Hey, perhaps it is.
Punching kids in the face aside, Jay Reatard’s brand of surf-punk will shatter your brain like tiny shards of quavers. Presumably from the packet Reatard stole from your sobbing brother. He’s ace and so are his live shows. Catch him at The Old Blue Last Nov 24th.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
After kicking off the tour at the Brighton Audio last night the female fronted Dubliners will unleash their Synth-Grunge concoction on London before headlining a further 4 shows, culminating at the Glasgow Barfly on November 24th.
Support tonight comes from a band as buzzed as any right now, The Electric City. Although unsigned the London 5 piece have signed a management deal with the same team behind Franz Ferdinand and the Kaiser Chiefs and will be looking to work their Scuzzy-prince-ish dirty disco anthems in front of expectant industry big wigs.
These are the remaining LOTW dates:
Thurs 20th Nov Camden Barfly - Fight Like Apes, The Electric City
Arriving in the nick of time, Leeds 4 piece Pulled Apart By Horses put traffic troubles behind them as they unleashed a volley of aggressive, angular riffs on a bewildered crowd rammed into the tiny venue.
After enjoying recent Radio One coverage and an eye catching performance at this years Reading and Leeds festival. A media melee at the front of the stage did nothing to distract a band clearly enjoying the fruits of their amp-melting labour. Soon to be released ‘Meat Balloon’ showcased exactly why the media and industry big boys are getting their panties in a twist as every frenetic-foursome yelp tangled its way around scratchy riffs and pulsating bass lines.
As the temperature rose and ears bled, To The Bones did nothing to stem the noise. Originating from Bolton, their savage cross breed of manic melodies and righteous reverberating riffs closed proceedings fittingly. Playing tracks from their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Duke Type A’ To The Bones Pixies-cum-Motorhead mongrel rock left a lasting impression on a wide-eyed crowd…even if it was just a ringing in the ears.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Next week: ‘these are things I refused to listen to recently’ (thanks, Dan).
Abe Vigoda ‘Skeleton’ – Named after the “who is that guy?” character actor from the first two Godfather films, these are the bastard sons of Vampire Weekend with a brand of scattershot-punk-tropicalia emanating from the The Smell, LA.
Bob Dylan ‘Live 1966’ – The erroneously titled ‘Albert Hall’ gig at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester. The one where a heckler, disgruntled with his storming leap from acoustic to electric shouts “Judas”, to which Dylan simply retorts, “you’re a liar”.
Collings and Herrin Podcasts – Yeah the Adam and Joe podcast, with catchphrases and songwars is great, but Andrew Collins and Richard Herring do an hour of unscripted bollocks looking at the last weeks news that I relish every Monday morning.
Crystal Stilts ‘Alight of the Night’ – In the Jurassic way my mind works Crystal Stilts were supposed to sound like a cross between The Slits and Crystal Castles. They don’t. They are better than that.
Langhorne Slim – For a couple of days previous and everyday since the Borderline I have been ploughing through everything I own from Langhorne and finding stuff I don’t. Check out Daytrotter.com for 5 free session downloads.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Among the obvious choices of films such as 'Quantum Of Solice' and 'The Other Man', the latest offering from award winning director Richard Eyne (Notes Of a Scandal). A selection of pictures soundtracked by the bands we adore stood out during the 15 day event. Here’s our pick of a very good bunch.
First up is the Giles Borg directed '1234', a heart-warming witty film that captures the independent spirit of starting a band.
Enduring the burdens of a job he despises and wallowing in the self pity of life without a girlfriend. Stevie and his drummer pal Neil start a band with Billy Dixon, an experienced and driven individual who helps the pair exceed the fortunes of previously failed attempts.
Grappling with success of the band and tensions between the members, the film creates an honest and original feel, something that’s previously been lacking in films of a similar nature. The Soundtrack effortlessly matches the independent spirit of the film, referencing Yummy Fur, Prolapse and Comet Gain while shamelessly rocking out with the backing of The Stooges, Pixies and Velvet Underground.1234 trailer
Next up is another British picture, directed by Pat Holden, ‘Awaydays’ sees Paul Carty (Nicky Bell) do he’s upmost to evade the tedium of a 9-5 existence. Whether he’s chasing skirt, fighting, going to the Football or taking drugs, Bell resists all normality and executes his role down to a tee. Carty, who’s left feeling bereft by his fraught family life and dull job, becomes friends with Berlin Bowie romantic Elvis (Liam Boyle), someone who shares his passion for old records and Echo And The Bunnymen, played during the film by The Rascals. Throwing himself into The Pack, a gang of Football hooligans Elvis finds it hard to distance himself from, Carty absorbs himself in boozy train journeys, violence and endears himself to The Packs general, John Godden (Stephan Graham). Set to the backdrop of the Wirral, a town suffocated by the iron grip of the Thatcher reign, Awaydays is an intelligent and superior document of Hooliganism, something that other films in recent times have tried and failed to portrayal. The film is as frantic and compelling as its soundtrack, a series of Post-Punk classics that accompany a deep and brutal story perfectly.
Telstar, a film documenting the life of genius producer Joe Meek, is peppered throughout with Pop cameos and a soundtrack so befitting of its 50s, 60’s setting. Written and directed by Nick Moran, Telstar is adapted from the stage to the big screen effortlessly and loses none of its original spark. From a flat on Holloway Road Meek developed techniques in recording that had never been seen before, produced a succession of hit singles and became the biggest producer in Britain during the late 50’s and early 60’s. Moran captures the essence of the story perfectly as well as doing justice to the hits such as ‘Just Like Eddie’, ‘Johnny, Remember me’, ‘Have I The Right’ and ‘Telstar’. Below is the Soundtrack to Telstar:
1. Theme From The Traitors
by The Packabeats
2. Johnny Remember Me
by John Leyton & The Outlaws
3. Swingin’ Low
by The Outlaws
by The Tornados
5. Don’t You Just Know It
by Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages
6. The Isle of Capri
by The Fabulous Flee - Rekkers
7. Play it Cool
by Billy Fury
8. Jack the Ripper
by Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages
9. Been Invited to a Party
by Heinz & The Saints
10. Be - Bop - A - Lula
by Gene Vincent & The Bluecaps
11. The Bee Song
by Arthur Askey
12. Just like Eddie
by Heinz & The Saints
13. Three Coins in a Sewer
by Alan Klein
14. Temptation Baby
by Gene Vincent & The Bill Shepherd Orchestra
15. Have I the Right
16. Night of the Vampire
by The Moontrekkers
17. Crawdaddy Simone
by The Syndicats
18. Please Stay
Love You More preview from Matt Cooper on Vimeo.
Love You More, a short film inspired by 70’s punk band The Buzzcocks centres around the day in the lives of two teenagers, Peter (Harry Treadway) and Georgia (Andrea Riseborough). A day in which they meet at the record store, discover their love of The Buzzcocks, fall in love and lose their virginity. Directed by Sam Taylor Wood, Love You More has already been showered with critical acclaim as well as being endorsed by Peter Shelley (Lead singer of The Buzzcocks). During filming Shelley visited the set and in he’s own special way thanked the cast with a rendition of an Elvis classic.
Apparently made for those who have tried to woo someone with a mixtape, Nick and Norah’s Infinite playlist borders on the sweetly/sickly taste in the same way Juno did. Starring Michael Cera (Juno) as Nick and Kat Dennings as Norah, the film see’s the two of them thrown together in the course of a New York evening. Nick, a ‘straight edged’ bass player in gay indie band ‘The Jerkoffs’ is struggling to get over his ex, that is, until he meets Norah, a complicated music obsessive, at a gig and their relationship grows in the course of the evening as they search for a secret gig of their favourite band. Directed by Peter Sollett, Nick and Norah’s playlist is AMERICAN there’s no doubting that but with a soundtrack comprising of the likes of Vampire Weekend, Band Of Horses and Modest Mouse to name a few its well worth gander.
Thursday, 6 November 2008
It’s the best I can do to keep from yee-harring after Langhorne Slim at the Borderline on Manette Street. It’s been a full 2 years since last seeing him play at the Knitting Factory, NYC, where he obligingly let two ticketless mates in on his request. That gig converted two staunch indie kids, fresh off their rights-of-passage-tour-of-the-world, to the dapper hillbilly-folk-country of Langhorne Slim.
Anyone new to the sound and exhilarating live performance he brings with the War Eagles (as his long standing backing band are now credited) will tonight have been converted too. From the outset with ‘The Electric Love letter’ to the crescendo of ‘And If It’s True’ Langhorne strutted and peacocked, hitting glorious high notes as well as he roused bar-room sing-a-longs. With no conceited mention of the previous days election result, modest acceptation of local adoration and a subtle approach to audience participation the set segwayed older, Dylan-judas-period-esque, folk tunes ‘I Will’ with produced and rounded newer efforts ‘Colette’.
It's not unusual to feel cheated by new material and hanker after older personal tunes but tonight no one did. Everything from the more recent self-titled album, and new unheard material shone like burning coal and welled up an emotional holler from anyone close enough to care.
Langhorne Slim ‘Rebel Side Of Heaven'
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Past Ones To Watch shows have seen the likes of The Kooks, Editors, The Wombats and more recently Foals emerge from Camden’s sweaty-armpit that is Barfly to play under the bright lights of Brixton academy. A transition that comes mere-months after treading the beer-stained stages for LOTW shows. A fact that in no way went un-noticed by an excitable crowd packed in tight to see openers A Grave With No Name. How much of the excitement was down to the band and not the seasonal weather peppering the streets above is hard to tell but the Mt Jade Three piece certainly made a case for themselves.
Revelling in reverb, AGWNN’s shoe-gaze dirge filled the atmospheric air with every slight strum of bass. A bass which vibrated deep within the heart of every transfixed punter and added to the glow of red light that soaked the venue in a warmth. Stand out track, ‘And We Parted Ways At Mt Jude’ captured the essence of AGWNN perfectly. A searing wall of white noise only punctured by the beauty of entwined lost melodies.
Next up were Broadcast 2000, the brain child of musical visionary Joe Steer.
Backed by a group of friends armed with instruments very rarely seen on your average indie tour, the band wasted no time in endearing themselves to the expectant crowd. ‘Don’t Weigh Me Down’ a we say you say call to arms briefly stirs the tune appreciation glands within but it’s not until ‘Get Out and Go’ is unleashed that we see any real visual signs of excitement I.E feet moving in different directions and hands up in the air like they just don’t care. Check your bad self’s.
Broadcast 2000 really are a band to behold. They command attention with every passing second of their woozy Anti-Folk frivolities. Glistening with pitch perfect production and sprinkled with the ting and tangs of the Xylophone ‘Run’ closes a spell-binding set in the best way possible.
And so, with two scintillating performances in the bag Rogues are left with the unenviable task of closing tonight’s proceedings and boy they do it with panache and swagger. They have, in ‘Not So Pretty’ and ‘Carnival’ two cracking pop tunes that showcase their New Order –esque 80’s invention and hooks plucked from the deepest darkest depths of Julian Casablanca’s soul. It’s new-wave as we know it and undeniably love it.
Much can be said for the emergence of 80’s inspired bands this year. Mystery Jets, Ladyhawke, Friendly Fires, Late Of The Pier and Calvin Harris ...err ok not Harris but you get the picture. It’s been a stella year for donning shoulder padded blazers and spunking out hits from synths of desires. So much so every Dom, Rick and Barry’s jumped on the Ford Capri bandwagon with the belief they’ve got the key and the secret to actually being any better than the next band on the production line.
So how refreshing it is then that Rogues, four beautifully crafted chaps from Aberystwyth, emerge from the wintery fag-end of 2008 and stake a claim for the most exciting prospect of 2009.
Photo's courtesy of www.louiseroberts.co.uk
Saturday, 25 October 2008
OK, so comparing Blood Red Shoes with the White Stripes is pretty unfair - the similarities end with the line up as the music is totally different. Whereas White Stripes always sound quite sparse and stripped down, Blood Red Shoes manage to create a dense, textured sound that belies their limited numbers. Disaffected lyrics, buzzing guitars and deadpan 'oh oh's are a few other characteristics that set Blood Red Shoes aside from their American counterparts.
We inadvertently missed the first few tracks of their recent show at Astoria 2 and burst in as Laura-Mary n' Stephen were burning their way through You Bring Me Down from their debut album Box of Secrets.
Blood Red Shoes have famously clocked up an incredible number of live gigs since their inception in 2004, and it showed in their performance. The two were astoundingly tight and performed their interlocking vocals intuitively without barely shooting a glance at each other.
Their bijoux stage was decked out with red lampshades, but unfortunately no one thought to put Stephen's drumkit on a riser. This, combined with the terrible layout of Astoria 2, meant it was near impossible to catch a glimpse of him throughout the gig.
Laura-Mary, on the other hand, was centre stage and soaking up all the adoration. With her overlong fringe and moody demeanor, she seemed to be channelling a bit Chrissie Hynde, a bit Cousin It. She played the guitar incredibly well and with gusto, making it easy to believe the Blood Red Shoes manifesto of playing so hard and fast that they bleed.
In fact, couldn't quite believe that the two of them could make such a full-bodied racket and kept craning to see if I could spot any back-up guitarists in the wings, but incredibly they did seem to be doing it alone.
During the encore Stephen invited everyone onstage and members of the audience clambered over each other to stake their place during ADHD, but there was never much of the atmosphere of anarchy or chaos that the band no doubt hoped to induce.
Thanks to their somewhat limited repertoire the show was over less than an hour after it started, a particularly savage and self-flagellating version of I Wish I Was Someone Better and a tense, menacing rendition of Try Harder a couple of the highlights. Overall, I have to say it was a shoe-perb performance.
Photo by +++ponyrock+++ on Flickr
Friday, 24 October 2008
'Their show' is, of course, in some ways incorrect as the band technically comprises only monsieur Anthony Gonzalez, but on tour he was joined by another keyboard player, a guitarist and, weirdly, a drummer in a crudely-fashioned greenhouse. These physically enthusiastic musicians helped to conjure up a bit of stage magic, as this show could have quite easily comprised just one man fiddling away at his laptop and a couple of synths.
M83's songs really do need to be played full volume in a dark room to be appreciated, so the live setting is pretty appropriate. Many of the songs seem to blur into one and it's easy to get completely absorbed in the music, to the point that it's quite startling to get bumped by another gig goer.
The celestial themes in M83's songs are conductive to this kind of reverie, the band is after all named after one of the most conspicuous spiral galaxies in the sky, Messier 83. Add oscillating melodies, languorous tempos and effects-laden guitars, and it really did feel as if we were a world away from grubby King's Cross.
On the other hand, some of the cod philosophy 'big think' lyrics grate a little. In Graveyard Girl, for example, the precious protagonist murmurs, "I'm fifteen years old, And I feel it's already too late to live, Don't you?". Vomit-inducing.
The majority of Saturdays = Youth gets played - although being less familiar with their older stuff I could be a bit biased - with pop track Kim & Jessie getting one of the biggest cheers of the night.
The band curiously all take to center stage once they have finished to bow and wave at the crowd, pantomime style. Within minutes they are back and provide an utterly immense version of Couleurs for the encore. Beats slamming, strobes flashing, it's almost a full-on rave as the crowd start moving and leaping about having stood reverentially still for the rest of the gig.
M83's cinematic sound was pretty mind blowing live, so perhaps I was right on with my original Mogwai comparison...
Photo by adman_jamjar on Flickr
Saturday, 18 October 2008
Here in Camden Lewis ditches the enigmatic but gimmicky Watson Twins who propped up Rabbit Fur Coat and trades them in for a band who could've walked straight off the set of Brokeback Mountain. It is with this talented and cohesive group of musicians that she regales we urban Londoners with the atmospheric folk tales of her new album, Acid Tongue.
Clad in a matador-style jacket and wide brimmed hat, Lewis initially takes to the piano to open with the first of many tracks from this record, Jack Killed Mom. Throughout the show she pretty much steers clear of soul and gospel tracks from Rabbit Fur Coat, bar renditions of You Are What You Love and Rise Up With Fists.
Instead we get the far more upbeat alt-country songs of Acid Tongue, such as The Next Messiah and Bad Man's World, ramped up to hoedown. Overall the cracking setlist strikes good balance between these fast-paced songs and Lewis' more melancholy ballads.
Drummer Barbara Gruska is quite a sight to behold, eyes popping she thrashes the living daylights out of her kit, gurning demonstratively all the while.
A particular highlight of the show is the song Acid Tongue, during which Lewis takes centre stage with just her guitar while her band gather in a Bohemian Rhapsody-esque configuration under a set of spotlights to provide the gospel harmonies.
Quite unexpectedly, the Koko soundsystem allows every nuance of Lewis' expressive voice to come through clear as a bell. Simultaneously tender and cruel, her refrains evoke ambiguous emotions and her lovesongs come barbed, case in point being Black Sand, "Who’s going to love you buried underground?".
Throughout the show the charismatic Lewis has the audience wrapped around her finger - so much so that the enraptured crowd are quick to cheer at any quip that passes her lips. It is officially impossible not to be charmed by her.
In the encore, guitarist and boyfriend Jonathan Rice joins her for a heartbreaking stripped-down duet of Roy Orbison's Love Hurts, which is followed by an equally poignant version of Godspeed, one of my favorite tracks from Acid Tongue. Lewis looks almost vulnerable as she sings at the piano of "When I was in bad shape", and shoots the perilously high notes of the chorus out the side of her mouth like they've been squeezed all the way from the depths of her soul.
The show comes to an absolutely thundering finish as the band go all out with the driving See Fernando, Lewis clambering on top of her piano no doubt to flag down the passing locomotive evoked by this song.
Quite frankly anyone would need to have a heart of stone not to love Jenny Lewis after this show, as melt our hearts she certainly did.
Photos by Lorne Thomson on Flickr
Thursday, 9 October 2008
BEST ACT IN THE WORLD-COLDPLAY
BEST ALBUM-VIVA LA VIDA, COLDPLAY
BEST LIVE ACT-KAISER CHIEFS
BEST TRACK-'SPIRALLING' KEANE
BEST NEW ACT-THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS
How can a magazine so successful produce a list of bands and artists that's so incredibly off the mark. This is just wrong, absolutely wrong.
It pains me to think that this is what they actually think constitutes as good music and A part of me hopes it's all done so when the likes of 'Viva La Vida' is picked of the shelf at Tesco's, Q gets to go for a ride in yummy mummy's trolley too.
In a year when Elbow, Kings Of Leon, Foals, Vampire Weekend and MGMT just to name a few have stepped up to the plate and produced albums and live performances of the astounding quality that they have it's remarkable Q, in one clean sweep, can mis-judge a stella year for music in such spectacular style.
Mind numbing shiteness is what Q magazine is, just don't expect that to change any time soon.
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Taking into account the last point I had to post this:
The single blog I am completely addicted to is Complicated Dance Steps. On which 'Blackeyed Donkey' regularly posts concise, informed and intriguing reviews of consistently obscure, fantastic albums spanning an eclectic spectrum of genres. Not only that but there is always a link to download the music referred to, fleshing out the review and negating the annoying habit I have of listing albums I want to hear but never buy because the list is too long and the price of records restrictive.
Subscribing to blogs is something I am hesitent about doing. I subscribe only to my brothers photography blog My Absolute Present, in which he posts monthly photographic journals which sometimes include a picture of our family and are often my only indication of what is going on in his confusing life, and CDS.
I guess, in a vain and hopeful thought, if Blackeyed Donkey is reading our blog I'd like Him (or Her) and you to know what a massive effect that blog has had on my life and record collection. I discard some music reviewed there and don't always rate the stuff He (or She) does but have found myself some great new albums and bands. Most of which I have wanted to review here but couldn't have done justice.
It was the first place I heard White Denim, Zombie Zombie and broadened my taste for kraut-rock 70s techno (if that is a genre). Check out the Jeans Team (who I'd never heard of, liked the name and has grown on me since) from earlier posts for some refreshing electro, the Marshall Tucker Band (who I'd never heard of and are f**king brilliant) for LA country rock and the intelligent Thomas Function (who's album cover is shit but are great).
I don't know who you are or where you're at but THANK YOU.
Sunday, 5 October 2008
Last week it was proven that listening to music can increase exercise capacity. Good news for Simian Mobile Disco then, who have produced a running soundtrack in collaboration with Nike. The track is imaginatively called Run and is 27:37 in duration. For the less athletic of you, there's a 5:42 free "edit" on iTunes so you can have a taste of the track when stationary. The pounding beats sound a bit slow to me and I'm no Usain Bolt, although according to the top fitness gurus at NME the pace of the track is the ideal bpm for runners.
SMD are following in the footsteps of LCD Soundsystem, who made the track 45.33 for Nike in November last year.
Sunday, 28 September 2008
Richard Swift got a mention a few weeks ago so it seems appropriate to elaborate on him a little and specifically around his most recent release, Richard Swift As Onasis.
From previous work, The Novelist; Dressed Up For The Let Down and Walking Without Effort, Richard Swift has a nostalgic, if hazy, air of Randy Newman or Harry Nilsson. Bubbling pianos blended with infected balladeer story telling make up the majority of his work. Yet buried in the heart of this troubled crooner is a soul of blood curdling rock n’ roll. Like Jerry Lee Lewis tearing him a new hole.
Sounding like it’s been recorded in a small corner of a derelict meat packing district warehouse Knee-High Boogie Blues, a storming hand-made call and answer number, introduces Swift, As Onasis. Onasis continues delving through a sack of danceable garage rock n’ roll, tasting like Dirtbombs guitar and anonymous without vocals until, through echo and more distortion Swift delivers with a snarl.
Without warning, or hesitation, As Onasis turns to the further reaches of rock n’ roll as he’s come to know it. Twisting through experimental heavily doused punk and post- drifting back through his piano driven bubbles of brilliance.
As Onasis is a huge album from a man relatively underrated yet wonderfully prolific. Although lo-fi it never sounds cheap or shoddy and successfully bridges modern blues like Seasick Steve to our antifolk favourites spanning 60’s LA and 70’s NYC along the way.
Before starting this post I checked to see if there had been a new release since Richard Swift As Onasis, not only so I would be focussing on most recent work but moreover that I want more he has so far let me have. In doing so I discovered there is a little something on Secretly Canadian's website, a digital only EP called Ground Trouble Jaw.
Thursday, 25 September 2008
the Internet is rife with the goings on of last weeks 'Gig Of The Year' at Heaven.
NME hack Alex Miller, who I spotted at the side of the stage, posted the story on NME.COM as well as denouncing security and bigging up the kids on the publications blog.
Vice proudly shower their boys with praise as expected and You Tube, although strewn with the usual flaky mobile footage, has a couple of gems including a 5 minute masterpiece capturing the carnage of set closer 'Juvenile'.
Watch closely and you'll be able to spot yours truly being dragged along the stage floor by the meatheads. It's roughly around 28 seconds in. Enjoy.
Check out www.blacklips.co.uk for more on the gig and a chance to win a signed poster made especially for the gig at Heaven.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
It's rare when a band can forge a relationship with their fans that's akin to a gang mentality but the Black Lips manage to conjure a bond with theirs that's as tight as any that's gone before them.
Throughout their existence they've remained incredibly assessable. Not only have they released a succession of records but they've toured almost continually since they signed to Vice Records in 2006. Scour the Internet and you'll find video's posted of the band on holiday, backstage and on tour. Give the 'Black Lips Hotline' a call and you'll be able to talk to them while they're touring. They never hide behind their success and that's why tonight the unity between both band and crowd made for the most raucous gig of the year.
Before the band had even taken to the stage the tone of the night was set in spectacular, debauched style with Cole Alexander rushing the stage during King Khan and The BBQs set with trousers round ankles and penis in hand. A lot's been said about his willingness to get his willy out and to actually see him do it is almost a privilege. Almost.
From that moment the bar was set and what followed was a night of pure rock and roll carnage. By the time you read this I'm sure the nights events will have been covered so I'm going to leave it here. A lot happened to me at the gig but it was all about the band and the send off they gave to their wonderful, dedicated fans.
All I can say is what unfolded at Heaven will undoubtedly go down in Black Lips history. They wont be back in England for a while but what they've left us to remember them of was a gig that was special for so many reasons. The incredible set, the fat-fucking Nazi security, the crowd interaction, playing guitar with a penis and the riotous atmosphere.
I know 'gig of the year' is used all to frequently by some parts of the media but the night Black Lips played Heaven will always be known as 2008's GIG.OF.THE.YEAR. Fact!
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
So i would theorize that the BBQ Show refers to the idea that if King Kahn turned up to play your, afternoon thru evening, barbeque (weather permitting) this is the line-up he'd bring - the King himself and one little chef in a turban. Rest assured no-one would miss your do again regardless of how badly your attempt at foil wrapped salmon turned out.
Paring down a ten piece band into 2 guys, 2 guitars and a deformed drum kit should make for a terrible sound, but these guys teased and satisfied a baying crowd with relative ease. King Kahn melded the glorious punk rock'n roll of the current garage trend with pure unadulterated doo-wop 50's influences and showboated his way into the hearts of a hundred kids with freshly topiared moustaches.
Filling the, very few, gaps with surreallist pornographic banter, inspired American in London references and a little stage invasion by the headlining act The BBQ put on a show that felt it was on behalf of ten men.
Oh, the sound, right! Imagine, if you will, the Monkees singing Stepping Stone while a skinny asian dude sprays the effects of an undercooked sausage in their faces, kicks them off stage and then drops to his knees crying. You can imagine that? Try and see King Kahn and The Shrines/BBQ etc...
I'll find a picture from the gig, steal it and post it later!!!