Saturday, 30 August 2008

Do believe the hype

OMG have you heard of The Hype Machine?! No, not the army of lackeys and sycophants employed by the likes of Coldplay to brainwash the public into wanting to buy their new album, but the music blog aggregator website. OK, I admit it, I'm way behind on this one, given that the site launched way back in 2005, but I HAD to tell someone - everyone! - about it.

The Hype Machine tracks music blogs that post mp3 files and saves the mp3 link on the Hype Machine database. Users can then search the site for their favourite band, for example the Mystery Jets, and use the controls at the bottom of the page to listen to one long playlist of all the tracks from that band that have been posted online.

The website has album and single tracks from stadium fillers like the Kaiser Chiefs to the most obscure of obscure indie bands. In particular, the site is great for remixes, check out this CSS remix of The Cribs 'Men's Needs' if you need convincing. You can also click though to the original blog post to read what whoever posted your new favourite track has to say about the band.

And here's where it gets interesting - with a bit of fiddling round via the original blog post you can download many of the tracks on Hype Machine for free. A bit time consuming maybe, but the music is free you hear me, free! Of course, Hype Machine doesn't condone this kind of behaviour and neither do I, ahem, so you're just going to have to use your initiative and lots of right clicking to get your dirty paws on those remixes.

I. am. addicted. To get you started, how about The Faint's remix of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs 'Y Control'? Or a remix of a certain 'Oxford Comma'? Have fun!

Not for the Faint hearted

Why aren't indie electro act The Faint everyone's favourite band? Their particular genre has exploded in popularity in the UK, as kickstarted by the Klaxons' Myths of the Near Future in January last year and perpetuated by the likes of Foals, New Young Pony Club, Does It Offend You, Yeah? et al.

Well, The Faint have been very busy, but busy back home in Omaha, Nebraska, the fools - building their own studio, Enamel, starting their own label, blank.wav, and finally making a new album, Fasciinatiion, their first in four years. And with the record comes the worldwide tour and a chance to road test the new songs, including at their show last night in Cargo, east London.

The menacing opening bars of 'Agenda Suicide' announce the arrival of The Faint, their moog-tastic dirty electro and electronic beeps and whines like a gauntlet thrown down for the fresh-faced new rave pups of London town. Donned in a lab coat and welding goggles, frontman Todd Fink takes centre stage, looking like a mad scientist overseeing futuristic experiments in sounds and beats.

To my absolute delight the band play 'Take Me To The Hospital', a sparse and entirely synth-based ode to hedonistic living that is definitely one of my favourite songs, like, EVER.

I initially thought The Faint only had two keyboards on stage but nobody panic, they were packing at least four, most of which were played by Jacob Thiele, who curiously pitches and weaves as if the floor is rocking beneath him while steadfastly keeping his feet rooted to their appointed spots. He gets the chance to run the whole gamut of frequencies on his synthesizer during new track 'Get Seduced', one of their most bleepy and squelchy offerings yet and definitely one of my favourites from the new album.

Interestingly for such a 'dance-y' band, the Faint have a live drummer rather than use a drum machine, and Clark Baechle does a sterling job of mimicking the sterile and precise beats that form the foundation of the band's sound.

Having debuted another couple of new tracks, 'I Treat You Wrong' and the robot-like 'Machine In The Ghost', two of the band's self-professed favourites from Fasciinatiion, The Faint launch into 'Paranoia Attack', the whole room shouting along "Paranoia! Paranoia!" like mental patients on a football terrace.

As the band amble off stage after a devastating rendition of 'I Disappear, the somewhat undemanding crowd chant for three more songs (three? I say play ten!). The Faint don't disappoint and return to what must be by this point the hottest and sweatiest room in the whole of London to play the disturbing 'Birth' - a graphic account of the whole process from conception to the grand finale, as told by the fetus. The show wraps up with a blistering rendition of 'Glass Danse', after which the exhausted punters pour out into the relatively fresh air of the main bar to swap the merch booth and scrabble to buy up the new album.

Having loved The Faint for many years I was beyond desperate to see them play live, and this show was the electronic euphoria I had been hoping for, although to be fair they would have needed to play for at least two hours to get through all my favourite tracks. They're going to be back in London in November playing a show at The Scala on Thursday 20th and I'm already excited to get lost in electro with them again.

For the geeks out there, here's the full set list for the gig at Cargo:
Agenda Suicide/ Drop Kick The Punks / Take Me To The Hospital / Forever Growing Centipedes / Psycho / In Concert / Posed To Death / Desperate Guys / Get Seduced / Worked Up So Sexual / I Treat You Wrong / Machine In The Ghost / Mirror Error / Paranoia Attack / I Disappear
Birth / The Geeks Were Right / Glass Danse

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Peggy Sue, The Social, London.

"Oh, I'm not going to be able to watch daytime Television, I miss those days", Shrieks Katy.
Welcome to the "busiest week in Peggy Sue's history, ever." A week in which they take to the stage 7 times, play instore's, appear on ITN news and release their debut EP 'Body Parts'.
"I said that not realising it was actually going to be true, I thought I was being over the top but apparently not."
Already today Peggy Sue, aka Rosa Rex and Katy Klaw, have sat through more interviews than they've ever had, which is probably why when 4or The Record turn up at The Social, a cabin-like hot box of a venue, the girls are nowhere to be seen.
You see, the promotion of a bands debut EP wouldn't normally warrant the kind of exposure and excitement that surrounds the latest release from Peggy Sue and the Pictures, so called because Peggy Sue have acquired the backing of Left Of Picture (veterans of the UK folk scene), but this is no ordinary release.
It's one that captures the sound of a scene that’s at the forefront of the industry's thoughts. As well as Peggy Sue, the likes of Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn, Noah and the Whale and Jeremy Warmsley are all flooding through the door Kate Nash and Jack Penaté spectacularly smashed down for them last summer.
It's something the girls are aware of and hugely excited about. During a whirlwind 12 months they were whisked off on tour with Kate Nash, an experience that went a long way in shaping and preparing the girls for what was to come. "Touring with Kate was fantastic but we hardly saw her" sighs Rosa. "She would be like, "I can see you for 5 minutes" and then she'd go off to do another photo shoot or interview. She'd come do her make up with us and then she'd go and that would be our quality time together, poor girl."

It's something they encountered again at SXSW when they hang out with fellow Anti-Folkists and good friends Laura Marling and Johnny Flynn. "Our normal day was a gig or two then we'd kick back, have a BBQ and hang out with Laura and Johnny and watch them go from gig to gig and interview to interview" remembers Rosa. So there must be a part of you that's enjoying the roles being reversed tonight? "Yeah it's amazing, we're so used to being the support and having busier people around us but tonight it feels like we've made the step up" says Katy. And the promotion plans for the EP would certainly back that statement up.

Tonight is just the first of four special gigs organised for what they call as the "4 corners of London". Tonight is West then they take on The Enterprise (North), The Betsy Trotwood (East) and The Windmill (South) Four venue's Time Out magazine cheekily described as central, central, central and central. Not that the girls mind. They just take it in their stride and even find it funny, a humour that’s apparent in their music and no wonder when you discover who their influences are. "Definitely Jeffrey Lewis in terms of Anti-Folk and The Moldy Peaches, we love them” and it's that humour and those influences that they take into 'Body Parts' a record that's an obvious departure from previous release 'Television', a Seven inch they released just after Christmas. "It's a chance for us to explore new instruments and new sounds" beams Katy and "It captures a folky side to us that's always been there despite the punky element that came with our first two singles 'Television' and 'New Song'" finishes Rosa. "The new instruments we brought in, the Banjo and Violin really helped us to bring out that Folk sound as did Left Of Picture. They're a band we've played with a couple a times and we just really love how folk they are. There's loads of Folk out there at the moment but it's all influenced by different genres. Left of Picture however are quite down the line folk and we really love it that we now have that injection in our music" she continues.
As well as the two previous very different releases, the girls had also released monthly incidental recordings that again captured their fun side but only cemented how hard it was to pin them down to a genre. Fully aware of this they realised just how important it is that they've put down on record four tracks that so undeniably spell out the direction they're heading in terms of sound. "Television and New song were at two ends of the spectrum, one being our punky side the other our prettier one. We knew that it never really came across as what we were really like. So with 'Body Parts' we're delighted it says a lot about us and what we do and what we sound like. It’s captured the real Peggy Sue in our opinion" and with that Rosa and Katy look at each other and share a smile that's still evident when they take to the stage in front of a packed out venue.

As each glistening track goes by a swooning audience falls that little bit more in love with Peggy Sue who captivatingly play with their untainted heart on their vintage sleeve and with a passion and exuberance that 4or The Record very rarely comes across. Each track off the EP sound life afirmingly joyous and only adds to the excitement of possible future releases. "We definitely feel ready to make an album but first we're gonna release another EP before the end of the year, Steven Ansell (Blood Red Shoe's) is going to produce it. Plus we may cover Be Your Own Pet for our next monthly recording but that’s only in the pipeline. We've got 30 to 40 songs at our disposal and at least half are good enough for an album" say's Katy "Plus bonus tracks", "Yeah, and Itune releases" giggles Rosa.
It's clear that tonight’s taste of being the busy band has left an impression on Peggy Sue that will only serve in propelling them into major Indie starlets. And with the thump of beating hearts and echo’s of admiration undoubtedly still ringing in their ears from tonight’s breathtaking show, Peggy Sue will be winning overeven more crowds not just over the next three nights but well into the foreseeable future.

Feature by Daniel Wade
Photos by Richard Anderson

The Peggy Sue interview...

was definately our favourite bit of our really really 'busy week'. I put busy week in speech marks because it really was a busy week for us when you consider two pints and some McCoy's in the John Snow on a Monday night leaves us needing at least two nights in to recover. That's not really true but what I'm trying to say is we don't go out too much. Apart from the John Snow on a Monday night that is.

The night of the interview though was very special. Not only because we got to act like proper Journalist (I technically am one but I wont go there) but because the girls, Katy and Rosa, were top top girls and were very accommodating to my moronic questions.

Here's a link to their Myspace so go check them out...not until you've read the interview though!

1000 Robota. Hoxton Sq

When a bare chested Joe Lean of Jing Jang Jong fame and a wide-eyed Babyshamble pull shapes in amongst us mere mortals you’d expect even the most star-studded show to be stolen.
Tonight however, deep in the hub of scenester depravity all the Jagger-jiggery and inabition abandonment in the world, let alone Hoxton, couldn’t prize the most ‘Heat’ hardened eyes from the stage.
In what can only be described as a moment of seminality, 1000 Robota ripped through a set of the utmost ferocity that will only hasten their return to England and to an ever-growing fan base that was out in full-force this evening.
It’s hard to believe that a band so young and, well, so German (they sing in their mother tongue) could cause such a stir amongst fans and record labels alike but the sheer brutishness and urgency in which they play to an enthralled audience goes a long way to explaining it.
'Hamberg Brennt', their unhinged, powerhouse of a banger was as marvellous live as we all hoped it would be but it was 'Sachen Erleben' and 'Wir Bauen Eine Neue Stadt', particularly the latter that not only channelled the un-nerving, raw spirit of Gang of Four and Television but their pure fervour made John Lydon look like an ageing Tory (Oh hang on?).
Some may think a devoted audience and an Indie-elite fan club would be enough to suggest 1000 Robota are a shoe-in for further British dates. An opportunity to rest on their laurels? Not a chance. Set closer 'Mein Traum' is played with so much force guitar strings snap, fingers split and instruments get splattered with blood. It’s a thrilling finale that capturesthe pure brilliance of a band your just gonna have to get used to. Just make sure you’re neither squirmish nor star struck.

Review by Daniel Wade

On record, Thomas Tantrum have been described as...

“melodic-jaunty-pop”, “spiky, guitar-tinged Indie” and “a bit shouty”. Live, however, their expansive hefty sound crushes said adjectives in an instant.
Looking and sounding like they’ve just clambered out of a Sub-Pop melting pot, it’s clear the playful side to their music is backed up by a brooding big brother sized sound that inevitably sets them apart from their Indie counterparts, The Maccabees et al.
The catchy,almost twee ‘Shake it Shake it’ is brought to life by a relentless stomp-athon of a drum beat that drags it’s way round your brain like a dismounted, tangled-up Jockey. And ‘PShandy’ is as close to an original take on a Karen O fronted 3-piece as you’ll ever get.
The standout track tonight however, is the formidable ‘Why The English Are Rubbish’. Miss Megan Thomas’ vocals are as delightfully quaint as ever but it’s the way in which she weaves her words around the run-away riffs that underlies the unique hybridity of Thomas Tantrum. Barnstormingly good.

Review by Daniel Wade
Photography by Richard Anderson

Me and Richard have been busy...

chatting to girls, criticising and snapping of late for a new music website,, so we thought we'd post our efforts on here for you all to see and admire, cry, laugh at etc etc.

First up are the annoyingly brilliant Thomas Tantrum...

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Making Music Videos is Easier if You Know a Band

White Denim - Let's Talk About It
Dir. Carlos LaRotta

Cheesey 70s fake moustache and hearse style; uncomfortable tableau style framing and set-up; glorious Texas sunlight; down at the carwash; a fat guy shaking his tits; skewed surrealism; slow tracking camera movements. Sweet.

It took them 3 days to make it, which means low budget but lots of effort. I'm led to understand that the director has done a couple of things just hanging out with White Denim and would probably have had time to thrash out some strong ideas.

Oh yeah, thinking of this as a feature on music videos that are beautifully hand made rather than commissioned by some commercially minded executive I'm reminded of another video...

Langhorne Slim - In The Midnight
Dir. Paul Kermizian

As a constantly touring yet rooted member of the New York anti-folk scene Langhorne is always on the move and this video captured a real truth about his life at the time.

Using a yellow taxi cab, and New York at night, the video is simple yet wonderfully captivating and uses iconography from the artwork of Langhorne Slims album.

Another video that screams low budget to great effect. Either put together by a very canny director or formulated by the director and Langhorne, although as a fan of another of Paul Kermizians video (The Mystery Of Rock Drumming) I have a suspicion it might be the former.

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Moldy Peaches - S/T

Anyone who hates music has a whole lot of catching up to do. The Moldy Peaches loved to hate on music and somehow channelled that into some of the most fantastic not-music sounding turbulent laments.

Destroying rap, folk, indie and punk in a torrent of obnoxious vocal and sometimes musical songs on a self titled album. Rough Trade agreed to sign the Moldy Peaches in the midst of another American invasion in the early noughties they played joyfully in the showers, while the White Stripes and the Strokes swam the deep end of the pool of commercial success, singing at the top of their voices about crazy burgers (These Burgers Are Crazy), who might they stick their dicks in (Steak For Chicken) and who had the crack (Who’s Got The Crack, sic).

It was only the recent inclusion of Anyone Else But You on, faux-independent American cinema release, Juno that Adam Green and Kimya Dawson saw a kind of success considering they now both operate independently and have an agreement with each other not to play Moldy Peaches songs as solo artists. This agreement might have preserved something that makes this such a perfect anti-folk, get-together, fuck-like-crazy, smash-his-game-boy, wear-her-make-up, matching-fancy-dress-costumes, get-high-and-puke, watch-cartoons, don’t-answer-the-phone, rip-the-piss-out-of-everyone-else kind of an album.

The Peaches’ agreement with you was that you grew up with them, and continued to do so. They painted a picture of the childhood you may have had - illicitly downloading porn, pre-cursing a teenage life trying illegal drugs or falling completely, irretrievably in love. It’s reassuring to find that the pair matured, despite polished productions, as badly everyone else as they released every new solo album full of country mimickery (AG – Jacket Full Of Danger), video game references (KD – Knock Knock Who?) and unnecessary swearing (AG – Friends Of Mine).

Please honour your side of the agreement.