Thursday, 31 July 2008

Life on Mars

Seriously, there is no band around that sounds anything like The Mars Volta. Their musical style is grandiose and takes in prog rock, jazz, psychedelicia and punk rock, while their fondness for indecipherable song names and concept albums baffles all but the most persistent music fan. Being of the MTV generation and having an attention span of approximately three minutes, I've never quite got on with epic 12-minute opuses that make up the the recorded work of The Mars Volta. I was sure, however, that they would put on an unbelievable live show. And having seen them recently at Camden Roundhouse, I was definitely right on that count...

Front Rows, Pits and Pavements

Coming on without any prior support band at the quite unexpectedly early hour of 8pm, the Mars Volta take to the stage in a haze of static and launch into a relentless two-hour audio assault. "Wall of sound" doesn't even begin to describe the density and magnitude of the noise this band make. I frankly have no idea what they played as there was no let-up that would in other circumstances demarcate discrete songs within a set, and many songs seemed to descend into freeform jams as the musicians saw fit.

The stars of the show were without a doubt co-founders singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala - a whirling dervish who leaps on speaker stacks, does handstands and generally throws himself around the stage with abandon - and guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez - who wrestles and cajoles his guitar into making the most amazing sounds, all the while gurning and writhing with the effort of it all.

The Mars Volta's ever changing roster of musicians and band members has encompassed the likes of Flea and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the past. On this occasion Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez Lopez were joined by the most ferocious and indefatigable drummer I have ever seen, a couple of guitarists and a keyboard player tucked away in the wings, a dedicated percussionist, and, of course, a multi-instrumentalist wind musician, who whipped out a saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, trumpet...

At times the music rose to epic clamorous crescendos with all the musicians furiously beating away at their instruments, but never quite descended into complete chaos, although the lack of clear song structures sometimes made it feel that way. A few quieter moments interspersed throughout tempered the otherwise frantic assault until both fans and band were exhausted and the Mars Volta wrapped it up.

Having procured wristbands from some lackey simply by standing around wondering which bar to go to, my friend and I stroke past several rabid fans haggling with bouncers and into the backstage area to rub shoulders with the Mars Volta. Yes, I have stood next to Bixler-Zavala, admiring how his hair is indeed as luxuriant and voluminous as it seems, and spent no less than 40 minutes trying to think of something less-than-idiotic to say to Rodriguez Lopez, a guitar hero of mine since my geeky sixth form days in which I had very little cool about me except for the fact I loved At The Drive In.

This show was unlike anything I have ever heard, and certainly nothing like a traditional gig. Maybe I'll be giving their albums another go now, and perhaps you should as well.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

He May Be Black, He May Be White

... don't fight.

Wondered if anyone else caught this bit of news from The Guardian via Pitchfork;

According to a statement from Bloc Party's management (originally reported in the Guardian and later confirmed by a publicist), the Sex Pistols were hanging out backstage at Summercase with a bunch of other bands when Okereke decided to ask Lydon if Public Image Ltd., his influential post-Sex Pistols band, would ever reunite. Guess the answer is no. The statement continues, "The Sex Pistols singer became intimidating and aggressive while his entourage responded with a racist tirade including the statement, 'your problem is your black attitude.'

"Kele was then set upon by three members of Lydon's crew who punched him in the face and head as well as attacking people who tried to protect Kele from the assault including Yannis Philippakis from Foals and Kaiser Chiefs' Ricky Wilson. The incident was broken up by festival security and was later reported to Spanish police. Kele also reported the incident to police in the UK after returning from Spain."

Dan recently met Steve Jones and he didn't mention anything to suggest he would be involved in those sort of shenanigans.

Check out for the full story

Let there be Blood

Young blood, that is, or, indeed, Youngbloods.

Judging by their recent show at Concorde 2 in Brighton the supposedly ironically titled Black Kids would have done just as well to name themselves after the only actual black kids in the group - the charismatic Youngbloods.

OK, so this suggestion may be a step too far considering the insipid contribution from every member during band's less than raring opening with Partie Traumatic, but the irresistible eighties riff of Hit the Heartbrakes is the kickstart needed to get this gig really going.

While Reggie Youngblood allegedly underestimates his charm there is no danger of making the same mistake when it comes to his sister Ali, who muscles her way into the limelight with each sexy swing of her hips and sultry glance across the audience. The tension between the two is palpable at moments as both clearly feel they should be the center of attention, but Reggie has an unfair advantage with his lion's share of the vocals and undeniably better singing voice.

While Ali's bratty vocals are nevertheless crucial to the band’s sound, any contribution from fellow keyboard player Dawn Watley is soured by her sullen expression – she looks so utterly bored you wonder whether she's on autopilot until she snaps out of it and performs a cursory twirl. Token ballad I’m Making Eyes At You frankly bores everyone though, so she's not on her own for a few minutes.

Throughout the gig Reggie’s lyrical bluster isn’t quite matched by his onstage presence, and he actually looks quite alarmed when he dares to engage the somewhat raucous audience in a mods vs rockers vote.

The band finally seem to be in their element playing their hit I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You, roping the crowd into shouting along ‘1-2-3-4’ as the song ramps up to the chorus. They wrap everything up with Listen To Your Body Tonight and Ali has one last grab at center stage, clearly savouring the saucy lyrics of this tune and supplementing them with a finger wagging refrain.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Ten Reasons (in no particular order) To Like Frank Zappa

…Though you probably won’t.

01. L├Ąther – 1977 when record label, Warner Brothers, refused to released Zappa’s eight side box-set he commandeered KROQ radio station to play the records back to back encouraging listeners to tape to whole thing.

02. His kids – Moon Unit Zappa, who appeared on record on Valley Girl and recently on TV in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Dweezil Zappa, played guitar alongside his old man live, released an album of his own and starred in seminal Arnie movie Running Man. Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen Zappa, popped up in the Mighty Boosh as a love interest for Howard Moon.

03. Censorship – battling at every level against censorship in music debating on TV, even testifying to the US senate. He may have done more for hip-hop than they’ll ever know.

04. Prejudice – listened to out of context Zappa could be accused of being racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist and a whole collection of other isms and phobias. If you did something dumb he was gonna pull you up on it no matter which way your bread was buttered.

05. Alice Cooper – yep, Zappa gave us Alice ‘school’s out for summer’ Cooper.

06. Fastidious-ness – Zappa tore through musicians in an ongoing quest to find players who could play his compositions without mistakes, in one case rerecording his album We’re Only In It For The Money twenty years after it’s original release.

07. Bruce Bickford – you have to see the insane animation Bickford created to bring to life some of Zappa’s music.

08. Parody – throughout his music Zappa cynically ridiculed many musical styles and stars by imitating and deriding them. Devo, Dylan, Punk, Reggae, and Bobby Brown all felt the tongue (and guitar) of Zappa’s pointed criticism.

09. Over fifty albums – not including albums released posthumously. Providing more than enough music for us to delve into and find something that will make us laugh, cry, dance or vomit.

10. The Rest – American ambassador for the Czech Republic; Captain Beefheart; muffins; live albums; concept albums; Steve Vai; Thing Fish the musical; Cal Schenkel and Neon Park artwork; the poodle theory; never doing drugs.

Maybe I’ll do a pt. 2.

Recommended viewing:
Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me
Zappa and the Monkees
WTF Valley Girl, seriously this baffles me

Friday, 18 July 2008

You know it's summer when...

a clap of thunder rumbles indiscriminately over Vampire Weekends' Mansard Roof' ceasing any enjoyment of the record from the outset.
This happened yesterday, on a day when the weather was about as consistent as a Glastonbury punters bowl movements.
I tried to listen to the rest of the album but it's sunny disposition failed to sit comfortably amongst rain battered window panes and heavy,brooding skies. So I put on 'Hits' by
The Birthday Party and Nick Caves antagonistic, gothic drawl became somewhat of a fitting repost to a slate-Grey London afternoon that teetered on the edge of pathetic.

Like many bands evolving from the defunct-punk scene, The BirthdayParty reveled in a creative freedom that saw their mutant concoction of punk and jazz-blues vie for space in an already over-crowded melting pot of post-punk, new wave and new-romantic bands.
There distaste for commercialism and insistence for making music on their own terms, i.e. a hybrid of dark-wave and post-punk meant the door that welcomed the likes of The Fall, Gang of Four and Joy Division was held firmly shut in the face of The Birthday Party. This only had the effect of spurring Nick Cave on to push their experimental sound even further,which ultimately made The Birthday Party one of the most influential bands of the last 40 years.

It's only been apparent in the last 2 years just how influential The Birthday Party were.
Int he summer of 2005, The Horrors spawned from the dark breeding's of Cave&Co released their debut LP 'Strange House' to a generation that thought interpol were as dark and dangerous as it got. The album was an instant cult hit and a string of live shows and support slots, notably with the Arctic Monkeys, caused ripple's of discontent amongst the Fratelli loving beer-boys but galvanised the art and book club recluses into kick-starting a scene that reeked of individuality and creativity.Since then, a whole host of bands have not only picked up the baton but they've run with it, passed it on and smashed it round the head of every irrelevant scmindie act out there, leaving them bloody and useless on the strobe light-lit dance floors of the UK.

Here's our pick of the bands that are heading the most exciting scene in music today, Dark Wave:

Ipso Facto

Televised Crimwave

Lord Auch



Dust it off and jerk it.

When bands ask fans to make and send in video's for their latest single, they very rarely exist of anything more than people dancing round their living room, up to their eyeballs in dirty speed whilst chewing on a glowstick.
This shit-hot video however was an entry for a competition Canadian electro-mentalists Thunderheist posted on their website.
It's without doubt my favourite video released this year. Check it out by clicking on the link below.

Jerk it (Contestant cut)

Thursday, 17 July 2008

If you don't know The Black Lips by now...

You will never ever ever know me, ooooaaahh ooaahh. I am, of course, joking... no I'm not actually. If you really don't know The Black Lips by now you really are a massive bloody idiot. A massive bloody idiot with a brain so small, I'm gonna put it at the end of this sentence. Look, there it is, stupid small brain.
I do, however, want people to know about this band so I'm willing to extract little nuggets of tantalising Black Lips trivia and force them upon your being. In doing so, said nuggets will be wedged firmly into your grey matter and render you helpless when the sound of the greatest motherfucking band in the universe wafts into your untainted ear holes. So here it goes then, The Black Lips, your new favourite band, uno, dos, tres, cautro.

Originating from Atlanta, Georgia, The Black Lips are a 4 piece flower punk band and are made up of:

Jared Swilley (Bass/Vocals)

Cole Alexander (Guitar/Vocals)

Joe Bradley (Drums/Vocals)

and Ian St Pe (Guitar/Vocals)

Jared, Cole and Joe met at school and formed the band with another friend, Ben Eberburgh. Tragically Ben died in a freak traffic accident leaving the boys to consider their options. They had just released their self titled album and were gaining a fearsome following on the now legendary Atlanta underground circuit. They carried on with the band, bringing in New Orleans born Ian St Pe. The tragic events of Eberburgh's death inspired the stand out track 'How do you tell a child someone has died' from their latest LP, Good Bad, Not Evil.
From the moment Ian joined the band they never looked back and have since toured for almost 7 years non-stop, playing; underground gigs, house parties, outlaw festivals, basement shows, street corners, roof tops and countless support shows for bands such as The Raconteurs, Be your own pet and Yeah yeah yeahs. They've release 5 albums, one of them being the greatest live record of all time, 2 DVDs, shitloads of 7 inches and have started their own garage rock label, Die Slaughthaus. All this and they're still only 23.
So now you do know The Black Lips you'll be able to enjoy them pissing into their own mouths and setting fire to their guitars on stage, using severed pigs heads as stage props, playing the west bank of Israel, talking to you on their fan hotline, setting fire to fire crackers dangling precariously from Ian St Pe's grill and being the single greatest live act alive today.
This band are truly awe-inspiring live so make sure you check them out at the following UK dates:

20th July-Lattitude Festival
29th August-Surfstock Festival
30th Electric Picnic
31st Connect Festival
16th September-Heaven(London)

And if you didn't believe me, here's links to videos of the guitar igniting Coachella gig, part 1 of a series of Vice video's taken from their visit to Israel and the video to their latest single "Bad Kids".

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Take your mind off

...denim for five minutes for chrissakes.

Before going out tonight i figured it was a good time to soak the starch out of my two recent denim purchases, Wrangler 27MW Blue Bell denim shirt like Steve Mcqueen wears in the William Claxton photos and LVC Denim Family sawtooth denim shirt that Levis sold out of and I had to track down at Selfridges. It started pissing down with rain as I was half way through and the first thing I thought of was how was I going to wear my raw 66 501s without them getting soaked. I also wondered how interesting it would have been to have soaked my denim in the torrential rain instead of the bath.

Eventually made it out to the pub in Greenwich wearing the 66s. I spent the night trying to avoid being noticed squirming on whichever seat I used, with every twist of the butt progressing the potential fade in the seat. The phrase geek was thrown at me more than once throughout the evening and I had no reasonable answer, in my friends eyes at least.

Of course the evening endured a couple of Staropramens and I avoided several spillages across the community table. A lift home avoided the rain at a bus stop and now the 66s are left lying in a pile at the foot of the bed. Just think of those creases forming, to be worn in properly tomorrow. I can feel it in my bones, these jeans are destined for great things.

Friday, 11 July 2008

I know nothing about Jonathan Richman

…and every time I learn something I forget it.

He is the guy who musically narrated the Farrelly brothers’ Something About Mary and I figured he must have been an American folk singer. A review in Vice remarked on how Dan Sartain vs the Serpeintes sounded like the bastard son of Jonathan Richman and Johnny Cash so I bought Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love, the first album I could find, his most recent and nothing like the estranged father of Dan Sartain. He was in a band called The Modern Lovers who recorded a song about Pablo Picasso never being called an asshole, which I heard on Alex Cox’s Repo Man. I saw that movie when I was about 13. The Modern Lovers originally recorded Roadrunner, the song the Pistols cover at the beginning of The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, I had presumed that it was a generic 1950s rock-n-roll number by Bo Diddley. A record I stole off a mate included The Modern Lovers’ Pablo Picasso amongst tracks that inspired The Strokes, I only really played that track.

Despite associations Jonathan Richman existed long before punk and was in fact inspired himself by The Velvet Underground, explaining why Roadrunner sounds like Sister Ray. The original Modern Lovers split up in 1974 before they actually released their, John Cale produced, first album. Instead it was released in 1976 by someone who thought it fitted in with punk and hence sounds nothing like the rest of Jonathan Richman’s back catalogue, where he takes centre stage ahead of an ever changing Modern Lovers line-up. I bought a few records at the same time but mostly ended up listening to one in particular, Rock n Roll With The Modern Lovers, which I think was recorded in a bathroom. Rock n Roll has some shit songs on it that are exquisitely lovable, especially Ice Cream Man, and Egyptian Reggae which is now used on a Weetabix advert. I went to Boston and came home to find out that he was from Massachusetts. I still felt that bit closer to the music and was desperate to see him live when he played a one-off gig at the Shepherds Bush Empire. He was great with just long serving drummer Tommy Larkins, full of Spanish guitar, twisted solo dance routines, multilingual encores and a polite manner declining to play requests for a baying crowd of middle-aged men.

It was there that I realised I knew nothing about Jonathan Richman although I’ve been told he is 56 and he clearly has terrible dress sense.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Is there anything else i can help you with...

crams the best of Levi's Vintage Clothing and nut bustingly ace music into a little blog and onion pie so glorious you ravenous little cretins can indulge in all our glorious filth.

Each week we'll feature our favourite piece of LVC and scribe about what needs to be heard, seen or danced too in the frivolous world of alternative/obtuse music.

Expect us to recite the most trivial details of any piece of LVC in review or feature form. Then marvel at the way we put together superlative laden sentences in order to introduce new bands as well as posting songs, videos and gig dates.

Of course all this gives you yet another reason to neglect your loyal loved. You know, the one who's upstairs right now, sitting alone in a darkened room watching Big Brother, cursing their monotonous existence and you for being such a useless prick. But remember to tell them when they come down that the workings of Delta 5 and 1967 505's are important and they will understand...right?