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.
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.
This cant be a genuine review I'm afraid. I've been taught never to write in first person and always to be subjective but those of you who've read this blog will know I'm a fan of the Black Lips. Those of you who really know me will know I'm more than just a fan and those of you who were crammed into Heaven last night will now know I'm a complete an utter obsessive.
Last night happened to be the gig of my life. A totally moronic thing to say and a stupendously generic repost from someone as fanatical as me but I cant pretend. In fairness though, a huge amount of people streaming out of the venue were of similar mind.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I had sat down at my computer last night and attempted to write this it probably would have read something like this, 'aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggghhhhhhhh, Black Lips, Bad Kids, me on stage, singing with Cole, willies, Nazi security, stage diving, dragged by the hair, headbutted, 13 bruises, 2 cuts, time of my life, aaaaaaaaaaagggggggghhhhhhhhh! The ramblings of a retard I'm sure you'll agree.
Now however, I'm calm if not still on a bit of a buzz and able to fully appreciate and hopefully capture in words how last night propelled my gig going experience on to a completely different level. A level way beyond anything I'd ever experienced before and beyond anything I'd ever hoped for.
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!
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!!!
Constantly looking in the mirror and wondering how the hell people don't vomit at the sheer sight of it? Tried accessorising with beards, sunglasses or even those fake faces with a plastic nose that puts Ricky Tomlinson's to shame? Well ladies and gentlemen if you've said yes to all of the above worry no more because Sleeveface is here to make faces interesting again.
If you've got a vinyl sleeve...
and a face...
then you could have a Sleeveface!
That's right, your face+sleeve=Interesting face. Its a concept dreamed up by a few mates that led to them posting 15 images on their website, www.sleeveface.com. It's now grown to over 11,000 images being posted, coverage on national news, newspapers and a 'how to' video hosted by Huw Stevens of Radio 1 fame. Have a look at it now, it's well funny.
I'm not sure whether it was the whole falling under the spell of Peggy Sue but of late the musical genre that is Anti-folk has well and truly lodged itself deep into my Grey matter and barring a drill to the head Saw 3 style it aint-a-comin-out.
Our love-in was confirmed on Wednesday night in deepest darkest Bethnal Green where Laura Marling,with her swelling heart and mercury shortlisted album in tow , produced the gig of the year to a awe-inspired audience, Anit-folk it has to be said, stepped it up a notch.
With the likes of Marling, Noah and The Whale, Peggy Sue, Jeramey Warmsley, Mumford and Sons and Johnny Flynn all making big moves in the 'game' this year, it wont be long until Anti-folk's taking over your life and you'll find yourself in the New Forest with an acoustic guitar making up songs about superhero's, crazy burgers and lovers crawling out of the sea.
These are some gems you need to get you ear ol's round:
Peggy Sue-Superman Johnny Flynn-All The Dogs Are Lying Down Moldy Peaches-Downloading Porn With Davo Mumford and Sons-Awake My Soul Noah and The Whale-Give A Little Love Laura Marling-My Manic and I
All this talk of Anti-folk does make me feel like I'm cheating on Post-Punk so I found this clip on You Tube of Jeffrey Lewis documenting the life and times of The Fall.
I should probably start this with a disclaimer: I love Laura Marling. I think she's incredibly talented, has a beautiful voice, and if it wasn't for the obvious biological incompatibility I'd want to have her babies. OK, maybe that's a step to far, but you get the idea.
So when I heard that she was playing a secret Bestival warm-up gig in Bethnal Green I leapt on my bike, set my compass to east and peddled as fast as my little legs would carry me. Thankfully said speed was hasty enough and I was able to join the queue growing outside the Star of Bethnal Green in plenty of time to get into the tiny gig.
This is a solo show in every sense of the word - just Laura Marling and her guitar - and as intimate as you can ever hope to get with such a rapidly ascending star. The hit album, the Glastonbury performance and the Mercury Prize nomination mean it's unlikely she'll be playing many venues of this size any time soon.
A couple of hours and a few beers later I spotted Laura Marling wending her way from the back of the pub through the crowd and onto the stage. The crowd falls into a hushed silence as she strikes the first few chords of 'Ghosts', the inconsiderate bottle clinking of the barman the the only distraction. As a self-confessed fan of small gigs, Marling seems to be quite comfortable in this minuscule venue and totally unperturbed by her isolation on stage, effortlessly holding her fans rapt as she picks her way through B-side 'Blackberry Stone'.
Marling's evocative voice is as clear and sharp as glass as she enunciates perfectly every word of her plaintive poetry, which, combined with her melancholic melodies, envelops the room and spirits us away to a dark and soulful land of trees, rivers and heartbreak.
Single 'Cross Your Fingers' sounds somewhat twee and contrived on record, but in this stripped down setting the folksy charm of the melody shines through. As the song segues into 'Crawled Out of the Sea' a few voices rise out of the crowd and in seconds everyone is singing along like we're at a twilight campfire - real goosebumps stuff. Marling rounds the gig off with the 'Alas I Cannot Swim' ditty that closes the album of the same name and, having thanked her fans, disappears off stage in defiance of calls for an encore.
This up close and personal evening with Marling was as short and sweet as Laura herself, but the atmosphere was magic and the undeniable talent of this tiny 18 year old was all that was needed to generate it.
you should probably check out White Lies. Theatrical, morbid, epic and better than The Killers, White Lies aren't for those of you with an acquired taste but they're pretty much gonna be everyone's cup of tea and WILL be the biggest band in the world sooner rather than later, whether you like it or not. So enjoy them now before you feel guilty and tell everyone you never liked them in the first place.