Sunday, October 05, 2008

Weekender : now into its second glorious Wikipedia reference

- A really busy week all round, October 6th - not as huge as next week, when we think we have four live end of year album list contenders (and then, if you belive the Los Campesinos! party line, none after that), but churning over plenty of new material nonetheless. Most would start with Oasis, but who gives a shit, whatever people say now come the next one even Noel will admit it was sub-par. That's what he does. No, we're leading this week with a long time STN favourite, sometime contributor - if we're honest, someone we go to more than is decent for either party, if only because he always willingly does good stuff and knows what this thing is - and purveyor of off-centre singer-songwriter-turbo quality. That's right, the second Towers Of London album. Oh, no, hang on. (And yes. Yes, they have.) Jeremy Warmsley, of course, whose How We Became has proved something of a breakthrough already in that a handful of outlets are writing about him in the midst of the current low level chatter about bedroom electro-singer-songwriter stuff (James Yuill, Sam Isaac) with "apparently he's already had an album out, but..." caveats. We haven't heard this one yet, but the whisper is that it's more spacious and more immediately pop hook friendly, which we hope doesn't compromise the dirty electronics and off-kilter constructions that made The Art Of Fiction so excellent. Is he that much closer to the mainstream, especially after headlining Transgressive's Hot Summer tour? Probably not, no, but we wouldn't want him to compromise that much. Oh, and some bigger independent stores have a second CD consisting of both sides of the recent Boat Song/Temptation double A side plus four other new songs.

- On the other hand, offbeat melodic constructs are all very well and good, but sometimes only raw, wiry three piece abrasiveness will do. That's where Popular Workshop come in, a hard gigging London trio who, having taken one look at their inventory of raw, wiry abrasiveness and shouting, decided the only thing that could be done was to make for Electrical Audio Studios post haste. The Steve Albini fingerprints are all over We're Alive And We're Not Alone, but at its core their approach is theirs alone, careering between crashing riffs and urgent rhythms like Wire circa 1977 channelling the spirit of Ikara Colt and Bloc Party and not quite knowing what to do with it.

- What are we to do with Misty's Big Adventure? Now on their own label they're free to pursue their own erratic, eclectic, singular ends, which on Television's People turns out to be a concept. Grandmaster Gareth? "The story is about a man who is too upset to leave the house and too wrapped up in his problems to find anything that will take his mind off them. The only thing that can cut through is the television. We follow him though the course of a cooped-up Saturday, from the early morning advert-laden children's programmes up to lunchtime soaps to the weather and rolling news. He begins to become confused as to whether what he is seeing is actually on TV, or is in fact happening in his mind. Until the man in the Claims Direct advert starts asking him personal questions. Enraged he fights back but in doing so gets sucked into the television where he ends up in the Green Room of Television's Centre waiting to appear on an awful game show. We leave him, along with the game show host and other contestants, waving to the camera." It's inspired by library music compilations and Gruff Rhys is on it crunching vegetabes.

- It really looked for a little while that Land Of Talk were going to get a big push as part of Montreal's second wind, Liz Powell’s emotive voice combined with distorted guitars really putting them in pole position to follow where Throwing Muses left off. Inevitably, and despite hiring Justin 'Bon Iver' Vernon to produce (one track was recorded in the self same now infamous log cabin), Some Are Lakes is hovering on the precipice of attention. A shame if it dropped off, as this is a band who look constantly about to reach that little bit further into indefinable greatness. Also out this week - while Grizzly Bear make the album of 2009 (you've heard While You Wait For The Others, right?) Daniel Rossen activates his duo Department Of Eagles for In Ear Park, which we haven't got round to investigating yet but feel we probably should have done by this point; Maximo Park guitarist Duncan Lloyd bearing a marked resemblance to new wave one hit wonders The Jags, right down to the Costelloish vocal style, on Seeing Double; Kurt Wagner's quest to take Lambchop's country soul power back to the quiet heights last seen on Is A Woman continues, without total success, on Oh (Ohio); and Dawn Landes follows her fine Fireproof album with a first official release for 2005's Dawn's Music.

- Singles too, Foals' Olympic Airways setting the seal on perhaps Britain's most debated and counter-argued band of 2008, but sod them, there's a raucous future of fight-pop ahead. Perhaps Dananananaykroyd do work best live, but Pink Sabbath follows in the Sissy Hits EP's path of actually making that much lauded in your face (literally) post-hardcore energy come to life on vulnerable old record.

- The autumn of Clash promotion continues. Pause for catty comment re turning rebellion into money, continue. Live - Revolution Rock is a collection of rare live footage of that most theatrical of punk bands, battered into narrative shape by - you look surprised - Don Letts and featuring an explanatory voiceover from - bloody hell, was everyone else double booked? - Zane Lowe. White Riot Collectors Box Set - Amazon calls it Should I Stay for some indefinable reason - looks like the sort of thing that'll turn up in The Works within six months, while Live at Shea Stadium is a live album, converted from tapes Mick Jones found in an old lockup (did he really forget he'd put them there, or indeed ever had them?) of what's often described as punk's 1982 stadium apogee even though the band were only supporting the Who. This is probably a good point at which to work in a mention of DVD We Dreamed America, a documentary examining the Americana strain of new British artists. Alabama 3, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, the Broken Family Band, Hey Negrita, Matthew Ord and The Barker Band are the bands captured, Bob Harris, Guy Clark, Tom McRae, Laura Barton, BJ Cole and Sid Griffin among those passing comment.

- And for those days when you just want to wind down with a book full of themed and opinionated top tens, Hang the DJ: An Alternative Book of Music Lists, compiled by the people who did last year's film compendium Ten Bad Dates With De Niro, will do the trick. Simon Reynolds, Kathryn Williams, Tom McRae and David Peace (The Damned United) are among those contributing.

COMING SOON: We've been endlessly plugging the free mp3 of a new Future Of The Left song in the Sweep, but here's an idea of another one from the second album promised next year - recorded at This Ain't No Picnic, Drink Nike. Meanwhile Falco is writing a blog of their current US tour for the NME, which reads much as most of his blogs do.

MYSPACE INVADERS: So it's dubiously Googlable band names now, is it? Following Joy Of Sex the other week come Red Shoe Diaries. Despite featuring members of pre-nu-gaze pedalsmiths Amusement Parks On Fire you'd fear for this sound in a strong wind, but should you like Swedish indiepop and Felt without actually being Stuart Murdoch they're right up your street. Handclaps, the odd organ and trumpet, C86 referencing wistfulness... If you are Stuart Murdoch, don't think too badly of their sound appropriation, we're sure they mean well.

VISUAL AID: Bill Drummond's 17 is ekeing into Waterstones nationwide, and while we ultimately doubt it you do briefly wonder if his current theorising against recorded music is in any way influenced by the way that, having though his whole musical work was now consigned to history when he deleted the KLF's entire back catalogue in 1992, the advent of file sharing and video sites has meant it's all back up for open public sourcing. So, a beginner's guide to being an agent provocateur. Drummond started off with big ideas, working designing the set for and being heavily influenced by the great and recently sadly deceased Ken Campbell's The Illuminatus! Trilogy stage show (this is him discussing it at the Robert Anton Wilson tribute night in March 2007 in two parts - it's not the most conventional tribute you'll ever hear paid, natch), then formed Big In Japan, started Zoo Records, managed Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes, then formed The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, chanced a number one with The Timelords and wrote The Manual to explain it, became the KLF and made the great ambient album Chill Out, then invented stadium house with the triptych of What Time Is Love?, 3am Eternal and Justified And Ancient, in the midst of which came a brief return to Mu Mu land, It's Grim Up North. Eventually the self-mythologising gave way to something more extreme, losing some money along the way and then hoping someone would explain it to them. In all honesty, we doubt The Late Late Show was the best place to try.

* With John Peel Day coming up Dandelion Radio have begun the nomination process for their third officially approved running of the Festive 50. Atlas won it last year, Tall Pony's I'm Your Boyfriend Now victorious in 2006, who follows them is up to you.

* Here's the sort of discussion topic tailor made for the subject - the current rustic pleasures of British Sea Power.

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