Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekender : possesses the mild air of a retail tobacconist

Incidentally, of the three bands we suggested/demanded you vote for in Gigwise's Camden Crawl competition, one got through. We know our place.

- It feels like dinosaurs were walking the earth when Blood Red Shoes started putting out regular singles, although in fact there's been eight in just over three and a half years. In any case Box Of Secrets has certainly been regarded as imminent at least since late summer 2007, largely held up by record company issues. And after all that it sounds, and probably was, recorded in a rush of studio time. Not that that's a bad thing in the duo's world at all, despite the odd vocal seemingly recorded by Laura-Mary Carter in a greenhouse. It's the same primeval rock and roll meltdown that makes their live show so compelling, as Carter makes as if she has blood turning to ice while carving out huge bludgeoning but accurate Rid Of Me-style riffola on one side of the stage while Steven Ansell whirlwinds away at his kit and vocal counterpoints on the other. Box Of Secrets is that rare record, a disc that manages to encapsulate the sawn off kinetic intertwining energy of the live show - there is only one other person on the whole album, and possibly just to make sure we give it the full whack review it's Harriet Campesinos - without much in the way of sonic compromise. A band that can manage that first time out is worthy of your ADD attention.

- There aren't many people whose only apparent problem with Luke Haines' post-Now I'm A Cowboy albums is that they aren't misanthropic enough but we're glad some exist, and two front Brighton/London quintet The Indelicates, who set their stall out as early as titling their debut album American Demo. The best capsule inroad we can manage into its world of eye rolling is to say it sounds much like a polemical indie band led by a Carter USM-inspired performance poet and a cabaret and showtune-loving disenchanted ex-Pipette should. If the weight of the pop culture satirising and baiting, occasionally alarming societal point bludgeoning, commoditising even love against itself lyrical scope occasionally make you want to ask Simon and Julia 'can't you ever actually enjoy something?', there's definitely something tunnel vision focused about the way it wraps its withering fist in the velvet glove of punchy, detailed but still handclap friendly power pop and occasional punch drunk love quasi-ballad - not only are they big mates with Eddie Argos, and like his band are better received in Germany than in Britain, but produer Brian O'Shaughnessy has not only engineered Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine but worked with Denim/Go-Kart Mozart, St Etienne, Misty's Big Adventure and the much underrated Playwrights so can tell where they're coming from and respond accordingly. It starts knowing it's right and everyone else is wrong and retains full ire throughout, and if their "despicable folk-rock cabaret" doesn't carry through with their celebrated "mission to end all music", it's certainly put music under strict supervision and no solids.

- Going back a bit, if getting Blood Red Shoes down on tape in a fashion that justifies them is like attempting to quantify the air, doing justice to the frenzy and noise ¡Forward Russia! produce on stage must be akin to operating that Large Hadron Collider that has a small chance of destroying the universe. Give Me A Wall had a good go and didn't quite manage it; Life Processes sees the band meet recording equipment halfway, attempting to find a narrow path between greater care and attention to crafting the noise and keeping it spontaneous and centrifugal. There's a greater ambition for wider spaces at work, stripping back and atmospherics making an appearance, but even if you can better decipher the words and act accordingly by trying to overlook most of them Tom Woodhead still sounds like a man being attacked by wasps during a hardcore gig. It's all over the place, and it's compact and overwrought simultaneously, and it takes them even further from the mainstream Whiskas' Dance To The Radio (although this is on Cooking Vinyl) label signings the Pigeon Detectives exemplify. Good.

- The great thing about following new music with nose to grindstone, the thing that keeps us coming back to this blog day after day and Weekender week after week, is that we rarely get out of the house. No, that's not it. It's the excitement of finding new talent and following it through to a first contact/press mention/single, knowing that somewhere out there is a band already somewhere close to fully formed and offering something genuinely enthralling and with a singularity that marks them out from the morass. Such was the case when we came across Broken Records, the Edinburgh outfit drowning in Arcade Fire comparisons such are their stringed instruments, mandolins and huge soundscapes, but equally you'd find them at home nestled next to Beirut, the Waterboys, Calexico, Too-Rye-Ay Dexys, Okkervil River, Bright Eyes, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' soundtracks... there's an intensity and a boldness to their arrangements that we just haven't seen in Britain no matter how long it's been since Win and Regine first appeared on the radar. The debut single, on XL imprint Young Turks, is called If The News Makes You Sad Don't Watch It, and it's not going to be the last we hear of them by the longest of chalks. Also out in single form this week: Cardiff Camera Obscurish The School's debut All I Wanna Do (same label, Elefant, as well), the long awaited returns of Portishead (Machine Gun) and Tindersticks (The Hungry Saw), laptop solo bloke White Williams takes the DFA glam electro dancing on debut New Violence and, oh go on then, The Last Shadow Puppets' The Age Of The Understatement, in which Famous Bloke Out Of Modern Band and Mate Of Said Bloke From Rubbish Band bring the melodrama of Scott Walker's Jackie to Alan Sillitoe's kitchen sink.

- For those of us of a certain age, Simon Armitage was our first entry into modern poetry through being the most cherished of Mark Radcliffe's Graveyard Shift poet. Wikipedia fills in the backstory to the effect that "He has received numerous awards for his poetry, including The Sunday Times Author of the Year, a Forward Prize, a Lannan Award, and an Ivor Novello Award for his song lyrics in the Channel 4 film Feltham Sings. He was one of the judges for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize and in 2006 was one of the judges for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction". Indeed, he was tipped for the Poet Laureate position last time that came up, and might well be again when Andrew Motion gives it up next year. Also, at the time of writing Elbow top his weekly stats but lag well behind the Fall, XTC and the Wedding Present in his overall list, not to mention his own band The Scaremongers. Clearly, this is a renaissance man we'd like to know, even if our compatibility is only Medium. Gig: The Life And Times Of A Rock-Star Fantasist is a typically self-effacing self-examination of his connection with music over the years and how it compares and impinges upon his life as a travelling and lecturing versifier, in terms of place, persona and ambition. The Scaremongers have just announced a London gig next month (8th May, The Gramophone in Spitalfields). If it goes half as successfully as his writing the town will be his.

- Armitage says in the text that the band he longed his younger self to form would be like the Wedding Present, which we can fully identify with, and indeed David Gedge is sought for a contribution. They're proof that once set in place an image can never really be shifted - when most think of the Weddoes they think of a yowling bluff Yorkshireman among jangly bluff Yorkshiremen, but here are a band who were subject to Steve Albini's microphone placings immediately before it became fashionable to do so, and will be again on May's eighth album El Rey, and who John Peel, who had them in eleven times, claimed had written some of the greatest love songs of the rock and roll era. DVD An Evening With The Wedding Present is a live recording from November 2005 featuring 21 songs including several of what passes for hits (Brassneck, Kennedy, Corduroy, Nobody's Twisting Your Arm, Come Play With Me)

COMING SOON: "(Nigel) Blackwell's personal mythology covers a wide range of topics which are often juxtaposed in counter-intuitive ways. A full understanding of HMHB lyrics is perhaps predicated on being born on Merseyside in the 1950s or 1960s, being unemployed (or at least not working, to permit exposure to daytime television) in the mid-1980s to early 1990s, and being an obsessive hoarder of books, records, football trivia, and memories of obscure television programmes. Occasionally Nigel turns his attention to the absurdities of everyday life." A Half Man Half Biscuit CD on the Probe Plus label? That's sure to be good. Yeah, break out the bunting and set the dogs on the unbelievers, CSI: Ambleside is their eleventh full-length, out on 28th April, and features the requisite number of excellent song titles (Evening Of Swing (Has Been Cancelled), Took Problem Chimp To Ideal Home Show, King Of Hi-Vis) So far debuted live, and the clever thing here is mobile phone audio quality means you'll have to buy the album to hear the lyrics properly, have been Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess, Blue Badge Abuser and Totnes Bickering Fair. Can we just express our enjoyment of the order in which the big names to have played the venue this local news story is about have been listed?

MYSPACE INVADERS: We're not entirely sure why we've taken a turn for the twee and lo-fi here of late, but as a palette cleanser after all the agitated odds-shouters we come across in release schedules week after week it works well. Also, we feel a lack of commercial ambition is to be lauded to the highest hills in these Cage The Elephant times. This week it's Leeds' The Seven Inches. Too tight to be shambolic, too acerbic to be cast aside, we suspect from the details they're as acquainted with Ballboy as the works of Amelia Fletcher. And a manifesto! One which proclaims their truths as "socialist folk music, soul power, classical sturm und drang, rock and roll realism, pop love, gospel truth, experimental ideology, and punk creativity... To believe in content over competence, style over content, and honesty over style." Yeah, sounds about right.

VISUAL AID: Edwyn Collins this week, who has recently announced an unlikely but hugely welcome return to touring. So quick quiz - what was the follow-up to A Girl Like You? It was the Northern Soul-referencing, just as good as the hit Keep On Burning - note none more 1995 Charlie Chuck cameo. That break was the sort of thing that enabled him to take his wry songs to a worldwide audience, Europewide at once in the case of The Campaign For Real Rock on MTV's Most Wanted (ah, a whole generation passes by who know nothing of Ray Cokes), or just on Channel 4's much lamented The White Room. You'll see he does Rip It Up in that clip, and Orange Juice are a slightly different matter, a one hit wonder but with a much more lauded back catalogue that Collins dips into very occasionally, such as What Presence. Any man that can sound equally at home covering the Velvets' Pale Blue Eyes and Eurovision winner Ding A Dong deserves only the highest praise.

* The Quietus officially launches in June but for the time being is running an all-star blog on music and its attendant culture. Pitching itself between the gradually decreasing target NME market and the highfalutin retro industry of your Mojos and Uncuts, kind of a Word-type thing without the occasional bouts of head-slapping, it's edited by John Doran who did 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, does the BigSexyLand club night and has written for Plan B, Playlouder, Metal Hammer, Record Collector, Wire, Classic Rock, Loaded, Marie Claire and others. There's also some sort of Drowned In Sound connection, and it features a range of writers signed up to do, oh, something which borders on ridiculous, including Simon Reynolds, Simon Frith, Aidan John Moffat, Simon Price, Steve Lamacq, Peter Robinson, Steven 'oh, could it be a piece about how all you internet people's indie music is shit and not like pop?' Wells, David Stubbs, Alex Macpherson, Leonie Cooper, Stevie Chick, Tommy Udo, Miss AMP, David McNamee, Andrew Mueller, kicking_k (someone we unaccountably thought was female until comparatively recently), Taylor Parkes, Neil Kulkarni, Louis Pattison... We'd recommend for starters the podcast with photographer Steve Gullick and the track-by-track on the new Fall album.

* As for bands blogging, Tokyo Police Club have taken the road less travelled, if less travelled for a good reason, keyboardist Graham Wright rating the bathrooms visited during their North American tour. From piss pot to fight pop, Dananananaykroyd have swapped their Tumblr blog for an easier to decipher Blogspot blog, its contents described as "pictures of ourselves monging off in England and nu-metal videos". An interview with the band will be on STN as soon as we ask the band if they want to do an interview.

* Blood Red Shoes are hot property at the moment, as previously discussed, and to tie in their first label Jonsun Family have put two copies of their long since sold out 2004 debut 7" Victory For The Magpie on eBay, all proceeds to go to the duo's charities of choice, St Catherine's Hospice and Help The Aged.

* New thrills! Defunct Largely Forgotten But Great In Their Own Special Way Bands Of The Past With Myspace Accounts! (Snappy.) To start, it's Princes Risborough's bemulleted cryptic calling Moog playing drone guitar Fall/Stereolab acolytes Tiger. Three brilliant 1996-98 singles right at the top of the player there.

* Wet Riffs. We don't know. We just don't know. (NSFW)


Ben said...

Not got Box Of Secrets yet, but it won't be long. And Harriet Campesinos is on it too? It just gets better.

I quite liked Tiger, so they definitely can't have been Britpop...

karthika said...


aegan stills, songs

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