Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekender : saw the ghost of Lena Zavaroni

- As much as Peter and David Brewis - and Andrew Moore, but these few sentences are mostly about Peter and David Brewis' projects - want to disassociate themselves from the band with whom they made two excellent albums, both of their albums will be naturally compared to Field Music, in more ways than the Field Music Production they're umbrella'd as to show that all three still collaborate on each other's material in the band's own 8 Studio and on Field Music's label Memphis Industries. Helpful in some ways, as both are as detailed and retro-modernity melodic as the pair, but when you're striving for something different it can become a crutch when trying to move away, whether the cut and paste pop of School Of Language or the sheer ambition of Peter's The Week That Was, whose self-titled eight track album is out this week. It is, it says here, a concept album about the influence of mass media on modern society, structured as an imaginary crime thriller in the style of novelist Paul Auster, musically seasoned with the flavourings of a very particular type of early 80s pop, that of Japan, Talk Talk and Hounds Of Love Kate Bush, evoking expansive complex choral structures and textures with the aid of judicious Fairlight sampler and Linn drum in a less showy way but along the same lines as Yeasayer and without copying that era's ageing production techniques, while maintaining the vocal harmonies, upwardly mobile strings, spare piano and XTC rhythms of the band but in a way that take their own time to uncoil their full colours and features. If you loved Tones Of Town but didn't totally get with School Of Language's Sea From Shore, we say you'll have an easier time with this one but it's by no means stylistic stasis.

- Briefly before we get on with talking about Stereolab's Chemical Chords, can we just rail against the occasional practice of edited advance copies? Yeah, rich of anyone who gets records sent to them gratis to be complaining, we know, but it has to be said that it doesn't benefit the listener a) if the label assumption is they're bound to be about to leak the thing and b) to have a set of songs that cut off halfway through. As for what we have, it's a very lounge pop-oriented Gane, Sadier etc. we find at the ninth studio time of asking. The songs are more compact and set direct for the summerhouse, there's oblique countercultural references next to ye-ye-isms, Sean O'Hagan's back to do his SMiLE arrangements thing and we hope someone types up Tim Gane's thorough evaluation of each track from the press release because it's an enlightening read. And yeah, you pretty much know what it sounds like from that, but that never stopped you sucking it all in before.

- In singles, Vampire Weekend finally do the decent thing and drop the masses a Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa-shaped bone while the hipsters work out which bit of the gyroscopically rotating hype/backlash cycle we're now on. Still on the upswing and and harbouring no desire yet to make playlists is the kinetic jerky fuzz of Thomas Tantrum, who claim to be from Goatee Beach but probably aren't actually living in that actual small dockside area in Southampton. Apparently they started out as an acoustic folk duo, something you can't imagine in the slightest hearing the Altered Images via the Yeah Yeah Yeahs via Life Without Buildings rush of Work It. Unlikely as it seems, it's produced by Embrace's Richard McNamara, not a man whose back catalogue has suggested the fast and whipsmart.

COMING SOON: Will Sheff describes The Stand Ins in terms of it being the answer record to The Stage Names, and there is some thematic transposition going on. What's also going on is an enveloping Motown-hued lusciousness that while acting as a piece with last year's STN album of the year reintroduces a countrified air reaching as far back as Down The River Of Golden Dreams. The whole shebang is previewed in this advertorial video directed by one David Lowery (the same one from Camper Van Beethoven? It's not clear), while they've dropped the odd hint during their recent festival rounds, such as Lost Coastlines (alright, lady, no need to scream that piercingly), Singer Songwriter and Blue Tulip.

MYSPACE INVADERS: Not that there's ever really a lean time in Manchester, but there's an upsurge going on at the moment of high quality new bands from there. Everything Everything were described by the North West Evening Mail as "Mogwai and My Bloody Valentine mixed with The Beach Boys", which would be the greatest band ever if true. They aren't, so it isn't, but they're still pretty notable. You'll hear Wild Beasts' machine tooled indie-funk, first album Futureheads call and response harmonies, the wild eyed taut punk-funk of first album Liars and most of all the Cardiacs' sumptuous multi-angled madness. How it'll come across when supporting The Automatic in October (their demos were produced by Paul Mullen's former yourcodenameis:milo sidekick Justin Lockey, and we can hear elements of that band) is another matter, but please welcome another of that increasingly rare creature, an urgent new voice in the boys with angular guitar stakes.

VISUAL AID: Revolution Grrrl Style Now! A very brief history of Riot Grrrl and women in punk and post-punk generally: part of punk's overhaul of rock

standards of the time was getting women like Pauline Murray of Penetration involved, although the most famous, Siouxsie Sioux, really became so by being the de facto leader of the Pistols' Bromley contingent (term invented by Melody Maker journo Caroline Coon) and hence the woman Bill Grundy ill-fatedly attempted to chat up. Lydon's other mate Marian Elliott became Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex; the Clash's friends the Slits turned from being the new Shaggs to dub-punk trailblazers. The Slits' ex-drummer Palmolive moved onto Kurt Cobain favourites the Raincoats, while in America Lydia Lunch started her career as a literate No Wave nihilist with Teenage Jesus & The Jerks. There were a few keeping the flame burning in between, most notably C86's harder edge such as the Shop Assistants, but a subculture of female music, art and literature making coalesced in 1991 under a tag coined by Tobi Vail, later of Bikini Kill, who would start a fanzine of that name with bandmate Kathleen Hanna as well as Allison Wolfe and Molly Neuman of Bratmobile. Calvin Johnson's The International Pop Underground threw a special night called Love Rock Revolution Girl Style Now that August which Bratmobile headlined over Heavens To Betsy, whose Corin Tucker later formed Sleater-Kinney. The British kept their end up with Huggy Bear and Mambo Taxi, whose drummer later formed the Voodoo Queens. The usual mainstream co-option did for Riot Grrrl in the mid-90s, leaving traces behind in Le Tigre, The Gossip (you have no idea how long it took us to find something that pre-dated That Song) and Mika Miko. We're sure Britain will get back involved in all this at some point. Won't we?

* So we've kind of come back to so much stuff it pains us not to mention half of it. We've had to force ourselves to stop looking at the main stage lineup for Offset Festival in Hainault Forest on August 30th-31st out of self-abasement; We've squirmed at the news that the Noah And The Whale single is being released in America as '5 Years Time (Sun Sun Sun)'; we've received the usual rounds of unique video performances such as Los Campesinos!' Take Away Show (those who haven't just skipped straight to this bit and are reading sequentially, note Gareth's T-shirt) and Martha Wainwright's and Wild Beasts' Black Cab Sessions; we've had a Myspace message that started "Hello to you "Both Bars On" blogger, I dig your blog, like your taste in music..." - clearly not that much; and we've found new blogs to exalt, such as Mike off Troubled Diva, the aforelinked William Swygart, Stylus' Nick Southall and, erm, some other people getting together and declaring themselves Rocktimists. Dom Passantino? He's over here.

* And then there's the new songs. Los Campesinos!' How I Taught Myself to Scream, long rumoured as a Hold On Now, Youngster... outtake, has surfaced, and it's a time signature-shifting, pummelling, swaying powerhouse that would have fit on that work comfortably (what in place of, though? Ah, the rock star quandaries) Meanwhile, You Ain't No Picasso has unearthed six new Decemberists songs previewed by Colin Meloy on his March/April solo US tour, including a new three parter.

* Here's an idea that beautifully melds new and old medias. Caramel Distro, set up by the duo behind Spiral Scratch club (and one of whom is in Pocketbooks), acts as a distribution/storage/clearing house for the indiepop fanzine revival, and they invite you to drop yours off similarly.

* News now from the office of a Mr J Warmsley - no, not a TV Show just yet, but he's shooting a video on Wednesday in Petersfield, Hampshire and is looking for extras. Available and want details? If this isn't a rom-com, email the director.

* And finally, to celebrate Madonna's 50th birthday, we present Garry Trudeau's magnificent flight of mistranslation fancy (no, it's not genuine, despite being quoted in many sources as such, Doonesbury creator Trudeau made it up for Time magazine in 1996)


bothbarson said...

Hmm... Thank you for intercepting our spam and mentioning BothBarsOn!

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