Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weekender : the music news, links and releases digest that's nearly met Kate Nash twice in the last six months

- John Darnielle doesn't believe in the Great American Novel, according to an interview, but he's spent seventeen years writing vignettes from a larger state so might as well be able to were he not choosing as his method of execution the indiepop song. After three albums of autobiography it's back to the fictional for Mountain Goats album fifteen Heretic Pride, as laid out in the Darnielle/Jeffrey Lewis comic book press kit. It's more band-based folk-rocky than much of what has gone before, and while that's by no means bad by itself whether that's a good thing depends on your existing knowledge of Darnielle's lo-fi approach of yore. Go on, get digging.

- Single missive number four in the career of the Brecon Social Scene that is Los Campesinos! is Death To Los Campesinos!, raiding those initial four demos that created such a meteorite-like impact a good year and three quarters ago for the track that may have received the least attention then but is in its 'proper' form validated as a rollercoaster of the usual unabashed indiepop kaleidoscope. Gareth says it's about awareness of taking direct influence from your musical idols, which is both a very LC! thing to write a song about and something we can't ascertain from the lyrics.

- A good three decades or so older but also prone to the big idea around the basic structure, Nick Cave is about to release the 24th studio album of his career, through The Boys Next Door, the Birthday Party, the Bad Seeds, Grinderman, solo and soundtracks. The title track from it, the Bad Seeds-aided Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, isn't that far removed from the raw bludgeon garage of Grinderman via the Velvet Underground. That big idea, according to Cave, is charting Lazarus' feelings about his resurrection through the prism of Houdini and his battles against spiritualist dogma, which is presumably that's what this is in aid of.

- We haven't had a chance for a while to hamfistedly try to convince you that someone whose name you're vaguely aware of is actually the most influential musician who ever lived, and our chance comes with the thirtieth anniversary reissue of Nick Lowe's debut Jesus Of Cool. Lowe was Stiff's first single release artist and inhouse producer in their early days, and would continue for several years as Elvis Costello's man behind the desk, and by himself precision crafted his earlier band Brinsley Schwarz's country-tinged pub rock into somewhere towards the sharp wry sneer of new wave on the likes of I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass and So It Goes.

COMING SOON: Go on then, let's bite the bullet. Quite excited by the coming on the 25th of Los Campesinos!' Hold On Now, Youngster..., yes, since you were about to ask. To celebrate, Gareth and Tom turned on a tape recorder in the latter's bedroom and hesitantly recorded a track by track podcast, wherein Gareth claims the end of We Are All Accelerated Readers sounds like Hundred Reasons. Once that's done go and watch Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats, Knee Deep At ATP and And We Exhale And Roll Our Eyes In Unison, plus a very much not filmed on Steadicam clip of Gareth letting loose his inner Tim Harrington. We're happy. And possibly stupid.

MYSPACE INVADERS: Surrey's Cats And Cats And Cats - not to be confused with Cats On Fire, Cat On Form or the Stray Cats, to rework the 'joke' we came up with when featuring the former last year - are UK labelmates on the estimable Big Scary Monsters with our old friends Anathallo and have a little of their airy shapeshifting about them, as that label seem to specialise in. They're rooted in the post-hardcore influenced danceable mathrock thing that's coming into fashion at the moment where guitars and rhythms collide wildly with each other and tempos change every minute or so but it all coalesces into something overpowering. There's elements which should appeal to those who follow Mew, Youthmovies or Explosions In The Sky, but really they're already forging their own path while barely out of their teens.

VISUAL AID: There was a time when mainstream television could manage an alternative music magazine show without making the music secondary to advertising for mobile phones and interviews with modish actors or claiming their booking policy will not be that of other shows before resorting three weeks in to booking the same bands as everyone else has after the first overnights come in. Certainly, it could do without idiot presenters. Snub TV was broadcast over three years on BBC2, ending up at 6pm on Mondays, which coincided with Madchester and the uprising of indie but refused to kowtow to received opinion of music broadcast, letting the bands speak and broadcasting live footage and specially shot videos, all well before evil scientists with a sideline in inflicting misery upon the discerning thousands had even thought of creating Nick Grimshaw. For example: Pixies (twice, and the Breeders circa Pod), Fugazi, Motown Junk Manics at full righteousness, the Stone Roses in the Hacienda, a two parter with Sonic Youth, the Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes' curious philosophy and Creation records including MBV and Alan McGee in full shades and Art Garfunkel hair mode topped off with Ride's Drive Blind, apparently teeming with "feedback, melody and youth".

* In this of all romantic weeks, let's start this bit with the poet laureate of the emotionally challenged, Darren Hayman, and to be exact Hayman Watkins Trout & Lee, his bluegrass outfit comprising a Hayman, a Watkins and, in something of a curveball, a Mayfield and a Tattersall, the second and third also in Hayman's Secondary Modern backing band and the latter the Hayman-indebted Wave Pictures' leader. You may recall we enjoyed their semi-secret set at End Of The Road last year, and they have a self-titled album out on 6th May, from which comes the two minute hoedown Dirty Tube Train. Meanwhile Hayman's Hefner restoration project continues with second album The Fidelity Wars in June, gaining a CD and 19 extra tracks, and to tie in he and steel guitarist Jack Hayter reunite for two shows, the first of which at the London Luminaire sold out in the blink of an eye, the second on 14th June at the 100 Club going fast.

* Part two of the Jeremy Warmsley and Fay Buzzard curated Welcome To Our TV Show! is now up, in its two parts welcoming round Lightspeed Champion, Emmy The Great and Laura Groves, all playing new and unreleased songs, the latter's dulcet set available seperately in full. While the music remains top drawer, neither Jeremy nor Fay have become much more comfortable as hosts.

* So there's this band called Foals. You must have seen them. Kind of jerky and tessellated and arty. The kids like it. Their singer Yannis Phillipakis was in the Skins special Myspace show looking like a cock. You'd know them if you saw them. Yeah? Anyway, before Foals Phillipakis and drummer Jack Bevan were in an abstract math-rock outfit called The Edmund Fitzgerald (and before that they were Elizabeth, but we're just getting bogged down now). There's supposedly a compilation out soon, but while that's in development hell tracks by the band Phillipakis now refers to as being for "men with beards who enjoy reading Kafka" are archived by this Foals fan site. Start with Two Broke Kids Bikes, we'd suggest.

* Part the third in our search for bands with personal blogs, and now we find they're getting into new music blogging too. This is a worrying development, we hope you appreciate. The party behind Nyevsky Prospect is Whiskas from ¡Forward, Russia! (new album April) and Dance To The Radio, and he's as switched on as that suggests. Meanwhile the venerable Billy Bragg keeps up a more linear diary for back catalogue based podcasts, stories of hurdy-gurdy couriering and relaying table tennis matches between Zack de la Rocha and Win Butler. And a reference which nobody has picked up on to "LCD Soundsystem's last ever gig".

* It's not too much of a leap from personal blog to personal side project. Isn't it? Whatever, we've been listening recently to a lot of the output of the really rather fine Stroud-via-Brighton folk-and-environs label Drift, where we came across the solo project of Thomas White, who you'll know from from Electric Soft Parade, Brakes, Restlesslist (and where's their album got to?) and several thousand other bands in various incarnations, guest spots and fill-ins. He's got a solo eight-tracker of "psychedelia, fantasy-surf and lo-fi trip-hop", I Dream Of Black EP, out May/June on Drift, and the song up at the time of writing does indeed sound like DIY psych-groove of the type we love - think Robyn Hitchcock joining the Flaming Lips. Meanwhile, the ESP blog has reposted the sarky glossary from Marine Research's website. We put the Heavenly successor's sole album Sounds From The Gulf Stream on not long ago and it sounds as great today as it always has.

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