Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Halfway there

Well, we've hit the halfway point of 2009 and so far it's as if the music world has bucked its ideas up and decided to see this most flatulent of decades out with a load of really interesting albums. Strong debuts from Blue Roses, Broken Records, Dananananaykroyd, Emmy The Great, Fanfarlo, Grammatics, Joe Gideon And The Shark, Micachu & The Shapes, The Phantom Band, Sky Larkin, Wake The President and We Were Promised Jetpacks. Stellar North Americans: Andrew Bird, Animal Collective, Au Revoir Simone, The Decemberists, Grizzly Bear, Papercuts. Brits singular in their various ways: Bat For Lashes, Brakes, Camera Obscura, Doves, Future Of The Left, Pagan Wanderer Lu. Hell, even style bunnies The Horrors put out a really good record.

And the fun doesn't stop there. The second half of 2009 is littered with good things afoot, not to mention ll the surprises. Well, obviously, they wouldn't be surprises then.

Just next week there's the amazingly tearful/joyous Slow Club album Yeah, So? August 3rd sees Wild Beasts deliver on their promise of a lightning quick follow-up to Limbo Panto, Two Dancers apparently even more elegaic and odd. Two words which very much describe Mew, a band who have chosen to call their album No More Stories Are Told Today I'm Sorry They Washed Away No More Stories The World Is Grey I'm Tired Let's Wash Away. (But it seems to be fine to refer to it just as No More Stories.) Out on 24th August, they're reunited with Frengers producer Rich Costey and promise a work that's more upbeat and nearly straightforward.

That Owen Pallett's a one. Back in late 2006 he said the third Final Fantasy album Heartland would be out in mid-2007. In mid-2007 he amended it to mid-2008. We're now in mid-2009 and he's still working on it, although he's found time to do string arrangements for the Rumble Strips (Welcome To The Walk Alone, July 13th). He promises it'll definitely be out this year, with a Prague orchestra. We'll believe it when we see it. Also imminently approaching studio finality, Lucky Soul's follow-up to the retro timelessly classic girl-pop drenched glory of The Great Unwanted. Like the advance single it's titled Woah Billy! and includes the string section that played on Brian Wilson's re-recorded version of Smile. Hints dropped on their blog about song structures include "Sam Cooke meets Edith Piaf", "Carole King sings Neil Young's Birds", "exactly halfway between The Smiths and Motown", "a weird mix of Stax, Talking Heads, Dolly Parton and The Specials" and "I still haven't finished the lyrics. It deserves brilliance."

A rather more forceful brilliance manifests itself in the gentlemen and lady of Digbeth that are Johnny Foreigner. "A year ago we were kinda smartarsed and told everyone it'd be a concept album about a band, yeh, who go on tour a lot and go round the world and then go and make their second album. And thats pretty much what we've gone and made." So says Alexei of Grace And The Bigger Picture, out 26th October, produced by Alex Newport (At The Drive-In, Two Gallants, Death Cab For Cutie, Polysics, The Melvins, Sepultura, System Of A Down) and featuring guest appearances by members of Dananananaykroyd, Sky Larkin, Fight Like Apes and Meneguar. Also quoth Berrow: "one of the songs features a title mostly designed to make Tubelord go "aaaaaaww"". Unfortunately Tubelord might be a little busy, the disorientatingly fearsome Kingston trio releasing their own debut album in October. There's a narrative, it says here. If you want noise on 7th September, you've got it in the shape pf two new releases, Yo La Tengo's twelth album Popular Songs seemingly their most eclectic, while The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, slightly reconfigured and definitely pinging off the wires of their nerves, issue the curiously titled Love On An Oil Rig.

And if we're talking inventive, often ear piercing regions, we must as we so often do look to our friends at Smalltown America Records. The Young Playthings have just released their second album, more of which later in the week, and in a Hot Press interview there's the promise of new albums afoot from lo-fi electro-bedroom pop whizzkid Alan MX and hard shell explosives Ice Sea Dead People. Excitingly, there's definite news of a 4 Or 5 Magicians album, 12th October being the landing date for the very much misleadingly titled Empty, Derivative Pop Songs. And... is that a new Jetplane Landing album emerging in the middle distance?

What else? Well, a lot of known knowns and known unknowns. Yoni Wolf excelled himself with Why?'s Alopecia last year; the offcuts are being released as Eskimo Snow, "really the least hip-hop out of anything I've ever been involved with". Monsters Of Folk (21st September) is really the least hip-hop thing Conor Oberst, Jim James and M Ward will ever be involved with, but there's plenty of suss just there to get excited about. People who don't really understand what twee is call Noah & The Whale twee; still, early indications are that they're stung enough by post-5 Years Time associations to ensure The First Days Of Spring (31st August) is a darker, more grandiose offering. It too has a running narrative, and Charlie Fink has made an animation to cover it that will be shown at Latitude in full for the first time. Tyondai Braxton is one quarter of Battles, so Central Market (14th September)'s "orchestral music re-imagined" definitely won't be one to have on in the background ust in case. The Noughties Shop Assistants that are Vivian Girls release quickfire sophomore album Everything Goes Wrong in September. Charlotte Hatherley, currently part of the Bat For Lashes live band, has always done really interesting guitar-pop stuff solo, continued with New Worlds (October). Then there's the Flaming Lips, who get out the costumes and big ball for double album Embryonic (14th September). Word is that Karen O and MGMT are in there somewhere, as is something, thank goodness, a lot more strange than At War With The Mystics.

And then there's all the albums that might come out this year but we half suspect might fall into 2010. Rose Elinor Dougall, for instance, whose particular psych-pop kaleidoscope of a solo debut will be called Without Why - a quote from 17th century German mystical poet Angelus Silesius, for the record - but might now be held up until after her exes The Pipettes have released their disco-flavoured return, produced by Martin Rushent for that full turn of the 80s flavour. Luke Haines, whose fourth solo album is titled Achtung Mother, which he describes as "two song suites. One is about being a man from southern England and the other is a homage to people like Klaus Kinski and Peter Hamill". Distorted piano-drums duo Quasi are back in action, now beefed up with a bassist third member, Joanna Bolme of Stephen Malkmus' Jicks (and wife of Gary Jarman off the Cribs, pop kids). And lest we forget, the Wave Pictures' David Tattersall suggested last year they had two albums ready to roll in 2009, acoustic and electric. The former is presumably If You Leave It Alone; no word of a follow-up just yet.

So there's plenty to be going on with. Let's all try not to die of swine flu, eh?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday's newcomers

Stockholm's Moofish Catfish have been over in the UK for the last couple of weeks, spreading yet another ray of delightfulness-driven Swedish pop. Melodic old swoonsome yearning is pretty much the starting point here, not so delicate that they crumble upon touch but possessing that chiming, timeless quality, slightly woozily retro, occasionally pleasingly fuzzy and falling-over and imbued with much of Those Dancing Days' joie de vivre without sounding that much like them. There must be something in the Swedish air that makes their young bands tend to turn out like this.

Even if you overlooked the name, only one country would produce Full English Breakfast, which inevitably is one bloke with a grasp of odd pop and a spectacularly eccentric worldview. It veers all over the place in what sounds like a single-handed attempt to show Lawrence Hayward there were some gaps Felt, Denim and Go-Kart Mozart didn't quite manage to fill in. In places it accelerates through everyone from Edwyn Collins (forthcoming single Song For A Nut) to early 80s Sheffield electronics to Beck to lo-fi Babybird to Mark E Smith being a little more careful with his initial influences. Every so often we need a new injection of English art-pop off-kilteredness, and with an album out in a month's time here's a man well in position to provide it.

Since promoting A Classic Education and Magpie Wedding we've had quite a few Myspace friend requests from outfits based in Bologna. At least there's somewhere where we're popular. One such is Ofeliadorme, who like both of the aforementioned are clearly aware of post-rock and are taking its influence into quieter, more structured areas. There's elements of Low's slowcore disturbance allied to the minimal raw, otherworldly appealing of the first half of Cat Power's discography, Francesca Bono's vocals between that spooked intimacy and Polly Harvey's force of nature. Dark and mystical, almost spiritual were it not for the fact that there's some quite worrying things going on, it's lilting but not quite lulling anyone into false senses of security.

Enough of quiet subtlety. These Waves are another of that growing band of youngsters taking inspiration from Minus The Bear, the Seattle outfit for whom linear time signatures and straightforward strumming were for other people. You'll also hear At The Drive-In, Reuben and Glassjaw in their angular post-hardcore attack (much like previously featured Buenos Aires, actually, and like other STN favourites Minnaars Tom Woodhead has been producing them), which is all to the good. They're from Derby, for the record, which has always been the east Midlands' poor relation in terms of producing bands but with You Animals and Beyond This Point Are Monsters also making moves something's afoot.

How about some doleful electro? I Like Where I Live, essentially one bloke from Glasgow called Dave McAdams, takes up that thoughtful strain of soaring keyboards and beats from the Postal Service and Her Space Holiday, while not being that far away from the essence of the retro synths of your Passion Pits and Big Pinks and onto M83. Music to look out onto the sunset to.

Which is not the case with London duo Gentle Friendly. With a release behind them through No Pain In Pop and one forthcoming on Upset The Rhythm they've certainly got themselves into a good place with a sound that doesn't make for easy passing listening. Taking the drones of the Silver Apples' oscillators and Fuck Buttons' special knobs, the hallucinogenic counter-melodic euphoria of Animal Collective, Banjo Or Freakout and Health, and the noisy, bleeding alt-pop oddness of the Unicorns and No Age, their music takes a woozy ride through a kaleidoscope of Kraut rhythms, digital distortion, criss-crossing ideas and the joy of loud and vaguely uncomfortable, all done on reclaimed keyboards and rusting drumkits. We sense you'll be hearing a lot, lot more of them in such circles when their album is out in September.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

One day in his life

How, then, to fitfully add to the welter of tribute, point and counterpoint surrounding Michael Jackson's demise? The only way we know how - by analysing the chart the week he first reached number one on his own, 27th June 1981:

40 Kirsty MacColl - There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis
Chart debut, her only top twenty single to feature the great songwriter's own words and considered a one-off novelty hitmaker for a few years afterwards, such was her one hit every four years or so career. Stiff Records, countrified, see. This, however, is unbeatable.

39 Coast To Coast - Let's Jump The Broomstick
They'd had a top five single with Do The Hucklebuck, a very odd record that landed somewhere between the rockabilly revival and Black Lace. We can't imagine this was much of an advancement.

38 Tenpole Tudor - Swords Of A Thousand Men

37 George Harrison - All Those Years Ago
There was a sizeable fuss made about Paul and Ringo 'reuniting' in New York in April, their first public collaborating since the hazy, free spirited days of 2002. Before that was the Threetles, and Free As A Bird came out of that. What gets overlooked is this single was George's tribute to John, featuring Paul on BVs and Ringo on drums. And we doubt that much of a fuss was made about all that. It only made number 13!

36 Starsound - Stars On 45
Hit after hit after hit. A Dutch collective re-recorded eight Beatles songs of varying notability, from We Can Work It Out to I'll Be Back, as a pumping disco medley. Four top 20 hits using the same idea followed. What greatest hits albums are for.

35 Bruce Springsteen - The River
34 Dave Edmunds And The Stray Cats - The Race Is On
33 The Beat - Doors Of Your Heart
Tell you what, wish we'd been able to go with the chart the week this entered the top 75, which features Ossie's Dream at number five, Madness' Grey Day at eight and at 9 Ennio Morricone's Chi Mai (Theme From 'Life And Times Of David Lloyd George'). You'd never get a series with that name made now. The Sound Of The Crowd, Treason (It's Just A Story), The Nolans' Attention To Me... glorious days, just five weeks too early. Or too late, given the following few weeks would see top 40 new entries for Stars On 45 (Volume 2), Motorhead Live, Kid Creole And The Coconuts Present Coati Mundi, Gidea Park's Beach Boy Gold, Stevie Wonder's Happy Birthday and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Hooked On Classics.

32 Gillan - No Laughing In Heaven

31 The Evasions - Wikka Wrap
We've marvelled at this in the past, but new people are always joining in so... Wikka Wrap was a record that sampled Good Times and Tom Browne's Thigh's High, over which a man impersonating Alan Whicker recited early rap hipster speak in the style of the besuited playboy high life adventurer. Curiously, it was a hit on US rap radio and Coolio later sampled it, just to bring the oddness scale full circle.

30 Tom Tom Club - Wordy Rappinghood
"Panty, toilet, dirty devil!"

29 Rainbow - Can't Happen Here
Ah, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Most awkward acronym ever.

28 Randy Crawford - You Might Need Somebody
One of the great dual-adaptable first names (Randy Newman) recorded three stone cold soul classics and now seemingly can't get arrested outside David Gilmour's studio. It hardly seems fair.

27 Third World - Dancing On The Floor (Hooked On Love)
Commercial reggae - it didn't arrive with Big Mountain.

26 Quincy Jones - Razzmatazz
A foretaste of what was to come, of course, Quincy Delight Jones (excellent!) had a long career as as a recorder only to be comprehensively trumped by his career as a producer. Here he pays touching tribute to Alistair Pirrie.

25 UB40 - Don't Let It Pass You By/Don't Slow Down
Still political dub merchants at this point. Maxi Priest's with them now. Maybe proving a point.

24 The Jam - Funeral Pyre
Remixed for Snap! as "nobody was completely happy with the original mix". This was the same compilation that used the inferior electried demo of That's Entertainment, the reason why there's a new Jam best of every so often.

23 Linx - Throw Away The Key
Brit-funk ahoy, full-on fretless bass from the band featuring David Grant off Fame Academy and a future member of 23 Skidoo.

22 Siouxsie And The Banshees - Spellbound
Actually throwing your parents down the stairs is not advised.

21 Vangelis - Chariots Of Fire
Getting ready to blight all sporting coverage for the next decade and a half.

20 Bob Marley & The Wailers - No Woman No Cry
Credited to a mate of Marley's who ran a soup kitchen. Bob had just died, obviously. Even more obviously, the baying live version.

19 Enigma - Ain't No Stopping
Not the Gregorian chant people of nine years later but another motley disco medley project.

18 Bad Manners - Can Can
2-Tone wasn't all political, of course.

17 Phil Collins - If Leaving Me Is Easy
16 Shakin' Stevens - You Drive Me Crazy
15 Kool And The Gang - Take It To The Top

14 Toyah - I Want To Be Free
And to think just five years after Year Zero someone like Toyah could be marketed as a quasi-punk.

13 Adam & The Ants - Stand And Deliver
White line fever, full on "insect nation" gubbins was go. Amanda Donohoe in the video there.

12 Bucks Fizz - Piece Of The Action

11 Imagination - Body Talk
One of the most complained about TOTP performances ever, described as "highly pornographic". Looking at it now, it seems to describe some swaying. Leee John etc.

10 Hazel O'Connor - Will You
9 Elaine Paige - Memory
8 Ultravox - All Stood Still
7 Champaign - How 'Bout Us
There must be something to say about any of these people...

6 The Specials - Ghost Town
Ah, here's one to discuss. This replaced Jackson two weeks later, and in the two weeks around that chart Handsworth, Toxteth and Chapeltown did indeed break out in civil disobedience. No word on Vauxhall Crestas stopped for having too many passengers.

5 Odyssey - Going Back To My Roots
Like some sort of disco-soul We Are Scientists, they were a New York outfit who had far more success in the UK. Thus, zipped boots or no, not quite going back to any roots here.

4 Red Sovine - Teddy Bear
Here's an oddity. Recorded in 1976 by a trucker-centric country singer to cash in on the CB radio craze, it's a ridiculous spoken weepie about a paraplegic boy in a poor household whose only dream is to get a ride in a semitractor trailer truck. Presumably Simon Bates or someone was to blame for this.

3 Kate Robbins And Beyond - More Than In Love
Macca's cousin, hardworking impressionist and Crossroads cast member, on which she 'recorded' this gloop.

2 Smokey Robinson - Being With You
Just deposed from the top, Miraclesless lover's soul of a high calibre.

1 Michael Jackson - One Day In Your Life
What happened was Jackson had moved from Motown to Epic, so after Off The Wall was done Motown rather chivalrously put this out. Throw in that the brothers' Can You Feel It had only just vacated the chart after a long, number 6 peaking run and the world-straddling colossus - with Thriller and all that still to come, don't forget - was in place.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Weekly Sweep

  • Animal Collective – Summertime Clothes [YouTube]
  • Camera Obscura - Honey In The Sun [YouTube]
  • Dinosaur Jr - Over It [YouTube]
  • Future Of The Left - Stand By Your Manatee
  • Johnny Foreigner - Feels Like Summer [YouTube]
  • Kill It Kid - Burst Its Banks [Myspace]
  • Let's Wrestle - We Are The Men You'll Grow To Love Soon [YouTube]
  • The Maccabees - Can You Give It [YouTube]
  • Mew - Repeaterbeater [mp3 via Spinner]
  • Pagan Wanderer Lu - 2.0///The Bridge Of Sighs [YouTube]
  • Slow Club – It Doesn't Have To Be Beautiful [YouTube]
  • The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Parrot [YouTube] (What we especially like about this video is the director clearly didn't realise it lasted longer than 1:46, which is why the basic concept gets thrown out of the window at that point in favour of "let's do some filming with parrots")
  • The Voluntary Butler Scheme – Tabasco Sole [YouTube]
  • We Were Promised Jetpacks - Roll Up Your Sleeves [YouTube]
  • Wild Beasts - Hooting & Howling [YouTube]
  • Friday, June 26, 2009

    Suitopia Parkway

    We're aware that someone's started a whole proper blog picking out odd albums on Spotify, but the person who runs it has written that the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band have "no redeeming features" and so can fuck right, right off. Instead, here's some more of the oddities we've excavated and summarised for little benefit.

    The Very Best Of The Wombles
    The Very Best Of Windsor Davies & Don Estelle
    Witness the two sides of the novelty 1970s coin. On the one hand the Wombles, a successful transition from not overly song-based stopmotion series of no little charm to glam hitmakers. Mike Batt, of course, the story being that deep in debt from a failed musical venture he was invited to write the theme and instead of straight payment asked if he could have the character rights for musical production, which he was granted as the estate of Elisabeth Beresford didn't think they'd be worth anything. Four gold albums and four top ten singles later, with a studio band featuring the astonishingly prolific drummer Clem Cattini and hard sessioning rock'n'roll guitarist Chris Spedding (he produced the Sex Pistols' demos) the clean up campaigners who must have seen their fair share of cruising on their travels nearly became worldwide stars. Writing Bright Eyes and pretty much being front centre of the rise of pop-classical never comes into it now biography-wise. Cuh. Fair to say Batt and co had real fun playing with various genres from classical to folk to Beatles, the absolute standout being The Myths And Legends Of King Merton Womble And His Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, which ploughs the rarely visited furrow between kid-friendly dayglo pop and taking the piss out of Rick Wakeman. And it really does.
    On the other hand, the two stars of It Ain't Half Hot Mum were pretty much left at the mercy of producers with doo-wop and bobbysoxer obsessions once their treble/baritone cover of The Ink Spots' Whispering Grass had hit number one in 1975. Pretty much the rest of it is hotel piano-heavy slung out covers of standards with a slim panacea of light crosstalk comedy, apart from the slightly odd Davies in character monologue A Message From Battery Sgt-Major Williams. The version of Nagasaki (from a spinoff of a WWII comedy?) isn't as good as the one from Jeeves & Wooster, by the way.

    The Best Of Arthur Askey - The Bee Song
    Well, it's answered its own discussion point already. More music hall shenanigans with no 'side' as it was being done at the time when everything was straight up and all-round entertainers could get by on a limited catalogue of song ideas. He liked his playful songs about sprites (The Bee Song, The Pixie, Ev'ry Little Piggy's Got A Curly Tail, Chirrup!), he did. Then there's things like I Want A Banana that make you wonder what 1995 Damon Albarn really saw in all this, then there's the routines straight off the stage. Big And Stinker's Parlour Games has the least repossessing title ever, and is a seven minute routine about deciding on a board game. 1940's More Chestnut Corner, on the other hand, is the sort of routine that was still playing well on BBC radio into the 1970s. Best bit: Sarah! Sarah!, which begins not only with high grade self-deprecation but the suggestion "don't play this first, this is the other side". Not like double sided records to be superceded. Aythangyou.

    The Wedding Album
    So is the idea here cutting costs by playing a CD of organs and choirs playing and singing appropriate songs meaning you don't have to hire the church organist? Graham Jackson's our man on the pipes attempting to imbue Sheep May Safely Graze with some sort of pastoral longing that surely wouldn't work in a cathedral setting.

    Celebrity Commercials Of The 1950s & 1960s
    And that's exactly what it is, American radio adverts with figures of the day, some even broadcast. Pat 'county bassoon' Boone, pre-Metal Mood, eulogises both the Chevrolet and the country in acapella. Ray Charles gets all emotional over Coca-Cola. Nat King Cole "doesn't pretend to be a wine expert" but he seems to know Italian Swiss Colony California Pale Dry Sherry inside out. Bill Haley shills for government schemes, while Frank Sinatra avers "communism will destroy our way of life just before he suggests haircuts are the way forward and well before reworking High Hopes in campaigning for JFK. Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Wilson Pickett, the Spencer Davis Group and Martha & the Vandellas are among those taking part in the cola wars with judicious rewording of their hits. BB King and Kenny Rogers put the case for credit card debt. There's plenty to feed off in these 73 tracks of all someone's yesterdays. The track that really makes this our pick of the week? Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, when not plugging marching for the poor, attempting to plug their 1953 film The Caddy without breaking down into wanton and unbroadcastable swearing. They fail miserably.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    Washington monumental

    Recommendation! Always good to hear from the feveredly eclectic mind of Pete Gofton every once in a while. Recently he's been out moonlighting with the live version of The Week That Was, remixing Sky Larkin for their recent cassette release and producing Internet Forever as much as Internet Forever can ever be termed 'produced' (and Frankie & The Heartstrings, who we mentioned in a Myspace roundup three months ago). Now his own George Washington Brown finally follows up the splendid On The Night Plain album of a couple of years ago with a six-track EP, called, um, EP on Catbird Records (order online). Still his love of impressively scattershot expansive indie pop pervades, gorgeous bedroom psychedelia that comes in multicolours with its welcoming arms spread. It's like an offchunk of Olivia Tremor Control mated with Elliott Smith and abandoned the result of the liaison in Peter and David Brewis' practice space to fend for itself. There's a free track downloadable from that sale link, which kind of means without an mp3 to call our own this entry would kind of peter out had GWB not helpfully made a video for It Still Rains off the aforementioned album.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    You'd never guess we've lost a third of our readership in the last three months

    Don't worry, this isn't another fit of pique related blank, there'll be stuff up before the weekend.

    What we should post about is the news that broke while we were out tonight of Good Books' split. They play their final gig opening the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury on Sunday, and then they all go off to do their own things, keyboard whiz JP Duncan first out of the blocks as Jocks. In the short history of STN we think ver 'Books, as nobody called them, have become the first band we've watched from demo, the still tremendous Passchendaele, to deal (a major, who promptly seemed to forget about them), to the rite of passage that is playing to twelve people in Leicester, to our interviewing Max Cooke and putting Control in our top twenty of 2007, to... well... the wait, and now the dissolvement. They were very decent remixers too, and for a brief period you may recall we exclusively had up two special mixes they did for fans only. If we could find one, we'd stick it back up. As it is, here's what they did arguably best.

    Saturday, June 20, 2009

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Animal Collective – Summertime Clothes [YouTube]
  • Camera Obscura - Honey In The Sun [YouTube]
  • Dinosaur Jr - Over It [YouTube]
  • The Duckworth Lewis Method - The Age Of Revolution [Myspace]
  • Future Of The Left - Stand By Your Manatee
  • Girls - Hellhole Ratrace [Myspace]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Feels Like Summer [Myspace]
  • Jonquil - Fighting Smiles [Myspace]
  • Kid Harpoon - Stealing Cars [YouTube]
  • Kill It Kid - Burst Its Banks [Myspace]
  • Let's Wrestle - We Are The Men You'll Grow To Love Soon [YouTube]
  • Lord Cut-Glass - Look After Your Wife [YouTube]
  • The Maccabees - Can You Give It [YouTube]
  • Mpho - Box N Locks [YouTube]
  • Silvery - The Nishikado [YouTube]
  • Slow Club – It Doesn't Have To Be Beautiful [YouTube]
  • The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Parrot
  • The Voluntary Butler Scheme – Tabasco Sole [YouTube]
  • We Were Promised Jetpacks - Roll Up Your Sleeves [YouTube]
  • Wild Beasts - Hooting & Howling [YouTube]
  • Thursday, June 18, 2009

    Sweeping The Nation Covermount 18: STN vs Johnny Foreigner

    Yeah, we're branching out. Rather than do our own background work to a downloadable theme, every so often we're going to pin down someone we openly like and browbeat them until they give us a list of songs they'd put on a mixtape to explain their influences, background etc. First cab off the rank, please welcome the selections of Alexei Berrow, artful shouter and guitar mangler at the front of Johnny Foreigner. They have a new single out next week, which sounds a little like this:

    All opinions are those of Alexei Berrow and do not necessarily reflect those of Sweeping The Nation or Blogger.

    STN vs Johnny Foreigner

    Urusei Yatsura - Thank You
    I got into Urusei approx. a day after they split. Then I heard this, and the sheer emotional POW! of hearing someone telling you they're giving up over such a perfect song made me first wonder if I should be dancing or weeping, and then buy everything i could find. And there was a lot, most of it glittery and superltd, and it was all amazing.
    From Everybody Loves Urusei Yatsura

    Pavement - Grounded
    Pavement, Pixies, Sonic Youth are year zero to us. and, as such, even their greatest songs tend to atrophy with a million repeated plays. Not this song tho. To the extent of, we used to play it ourselves for ages and it's still not been ruined.
    From Wowee Zowee

    Bright Eyes - The City Has Sex
    Before he was THE ONE for all my female friends circa 2003, Bright Eyes was these little angsty country songs I used to annoy my friend Jim by playing constantly when he was round my flat. Perfect lyrics, amazing arrangments, crying over girls had never been so catchy or cathartic. Of course, it was too perfect to stay ours. Now I hear he has people to pick girls from the crowd each night for him to fuck. He's not my hero no more, sir.
    From Letting Off The Happiness

    Idlewild - Everyone Says You're So Fragile
    Idlewild were like our gods. Watching them go from playing our shitty locals to filling out the Wulfrun, with an ever increasing list of AMAZING melody bomb singles, was the first time I ever felt righteous about the music I love. American English ruined everything forever, obviously, but I went Pavlov-mental last time I saw them and they played this. WAH!
    From Hope Is Important

    Broken Social Scene - Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day)
    Was so so nervous the first time heard this. I feel like I lived inside You Forgot It In People for about a year. Please dont have gone rubbish, Broken Social Scene, yr teetering so precariously over so many pretentious/prog/production mines. And then this song comes on and I was like FUCCCCCCCCCCK YEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSS!!!!!
    From Broken Social Scene

    Smashing Pumpkins - Today
    Cos when I was a 6th form, me and Craig Middleton would get in extra early to secure the common room ghetto blaster. And this is what we'd play, allthefuckingtime. and it was like, a small chunk of awesomeness in two years of shit.
    From Siamese Dream

    Los Campesinos! - Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks
    Dananananaykroyd - Some Dresses
    Probably the only time these two songs should be listed together, hearing them a couple of years ago when we were broke and almost broken and altogether all less acclaimed, thinking WOW there are others like us out there! was super reassuring.
    These are the original demo and original single versions: check against the re-records on Hold On Now, Youngster... and Hey Everyone! respectively

    Distophia - Thug Passion
    Local band that should have been less local. Beat Dyslexia, the last, unreleased album, is the sound of my friends taking ideas from every bit of music we love and shoving them into these fucking incredible tight pop songs. I've met London Industry types and ended up speaking to them about how great this band was. And they go, oh yeh, Distophia, they had no image, that was their problem. And I go, no, you dumb fuck THAT WAS THE POINT. Then I end them. And I'd like to think the amount of posthumous love this band gets on DiS proves me right. Love live Calories.

    The Starries - Feature 85
    Another local band, slighter older than me and mine, constantly drunk and out of tune and under-rehearsed and long split up, but with the most perfect discordant indie rock songs ever. The greatest Birmingham band ever, IMO. I still don't think they had any idea how amazingly great they where.

    Cap'n Jazz - Little League
    Modest Mouse - Dukes Up
    Rapider Than Horsepower - Autumn Season
    Not the greatest songs on their parent albums, but the first I heard through mix CDs and Epitonic (aaaaaaaaah, Epitonic) I judge people I meet on their reactions to these albums. Those that go: but, its so out of tune, they can't even play properly, I arrange to be shot, and those that are left with big happy faces from the sheer JOY they have just heard, and have goosebumps because they didn't know one could receive such JOY from a bunch of noises in the ear, I love and hold and cherish forever.
    From, respectively, Analphabetapolothology, Sad Sappy Sucker and What's Our Visibility?, which we can't find a sale link for.

    Sleeper - What Do I Do Now?
    Is the greatest British guitar song of the 20th century. I'm not in the slightest upset that people will snort over this, they are idiots and I pity them.
    From The It Girl

    Rainer Maria - The Contents Of Lincoln's Pockets
    I always feel faintly embarrassed when people complement our vocal arrangments. Thanks, I should say, make sure you never listen to early Rainer Maria! I dont care about the contents of Lincoln's pockets, but this song is actually PERFECT.
    From A Better Version Of Me

    Owls - Holy Fucking Ghost
    I could put any Owls song on really, the album should be listened to whole, but this is like a thematic summary of all the other songs so serves purpose well. I once spent a whole summer doing nothing but taking pills and lazing around my house with these True Metal Girls. Mutual Kinsella loving was our only musical common ground, and this record is the ultimate comedown saver (and still my default answer when anyone asks me, whats the best album ever made)
    From Owls

    AC Acoustics - B2
    I know it's not their best song, I know it's a dEUS steal, I listened to it just now and I don't even know if it's a good song anymore. but nothing else will ever remind me of going to Helen Elwood's house for Christmas 2001, which is a beautiful memory.
    From Understanding Music

    Radiohead - Vegetable
    I am a fat depressive teenage mess alone on a bus crowded full of idiots from my school who DON'T UNDERSTAND ME, and I have a tape with Pablo Honey on and as soon as I put my headphones on everything is alright forever. And it was.
    From Pablo Honey

    Stapleton - Chez Chef
    THE ORIGINAL VERSION YEH? thx. Not their best song by quite a way (tho, the worst Stapleton is better than 99.9% of other songs) but it totally reminds me of going to see them, shakily passing tickets over barriers for them to awkwardly sign. If I'm allowed a hidden track I'd like it to be the whole of On The Enjoyment Of Unpleasant Places, the mini album that preceded these EPs. Best car journey album ever.
    From Chez Chef EP

    Wednesday, June 17, 2009

    The Music That Made... Stars And Sons

    Alcopop! Records, who've been putting out little bundles of joy for a little bit now, have just released Alcopopular 3, as the name suggests their third selection of treats. The gimmick with this one is it comes in message in a bottle format. That'll be a bottle containing personalised information on how to download the compilation. You heard. Therein you'll find tracks by the likes of Pulled Apart By Horses, Tellison, Town Bike, Paul Steel, Arrows Of Love (the new band of some of Hush The Many)... and Stars And Sons, the name under which Mike Lord produces oddball off-kilter indie-pop and put out the excellent In The Ocean single last year. Lord took time out from recording an album to face our line of questioning:

    First single bought: Billie Myers - Tell Me. I found this on Spotify the other day. Eurgh.
    First album bought: The first All Saints album. I wanted to get the Spice Girls album but my cousin was raging on about manufactured pop and wouldn’t let me. I taped it off my friend in the end. A tape copy of a tape copy.. Nice and hissy..
    First gig voluntarily attended: Ed Harcourt at Shepherds Bush Empire. Ben & Jason were supporting. It was awesome. Can’t remember when it was but I remember not being able to see very much so I guess I was quite little.
    The record that most made you want to get into music: XO by Elliot Smith was played a lot by my older brothers when I was young. I couldn’t really understand why it was so good but I think I started practicing piano a bit more at that point though!
    The three headliners at a festival you were curating: Deerhoof, Cornelius, and Spinal Tap.
    A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear: Wild Beasts - Assembly
    A song you'd play to get people dancing: Morris Day and the Time - Jungle Love. Tune!
    The last great thing you heard: I’ve just got into Scott Walker. I started with Scott 4 and now I’m going back through the old albums. I’ll move on to Tilt when I’m feeling brave!
    Your key non-musical influences: UKTV Food. Food porn in general.
    Your favourite new artist: Aaron King. The piano playing whizz kid not the gay porn star.

    Monday, June 15, 2009

    One foot in the grave

    Part-psychobilly, part-garage rock, even a hint of primeval Nashville, The Humms are an Atlanta, Georgia trio who, it says here, "loud music about murder, drugs, drunks, ghost, hippies, colors and of course...love." Their lysergic graveyard take on rock'n'roll seems equally inspired by rockabilly, Big Star and Nuggets, and is one of those fascinatingly out of time melodic three minutes at a time bands you come across every so often. Odd Box Records, from the people who brought London the recently finished Lostmusic nights, are putting out a limited edition run of their Are You Dead? EP.

    The Humms - Do The Graverobber!

    Sunday, June 14, 2009

    Wise words

    Just a quick note to mention that below the slightly smaller list o'blogs on the sidebar is now a small selection of blogs run by bands and labels we've supported. We're kind of guessing we've missed a few out, which you're welcome to tell us about.

    Saturday, June 13, 2009

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Camera Obscura - Honey In The Sun [YouTube]
  • Dinosaur Jr - Over It [YouTube]
  • Dimbleby & Capper - Pick Him Up, Lock Him Up [Myspace] (Got a feeling we might regret this if she goes major label, in which case she'll end up with an album half written by Eg White that sounds a bit like Annie and a bit like Stevie Nicks and more than a bit like compromised compressed faeces, but right at this bedroom-bound moment she exerts a certain pop wonderousness. And yeah, it's all one person, one Laura Bettinson. There are wigs involved)
  • Dirty Projectors - Useful Chamber
  • Fanfarlo - Ghosts [Myspace] (In case you didn't see this, until July 4th you can buy a download of Fanfarlo's

    album Reservoir, as promoted here the other day, from their official site for one dollar)

  • Future Of The Left - You Need Satan More Than He Needs You [Myspace]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Feels Like Summer [Myspace]
  • Jonquil - Fighting Smiles [Myspace]
  • Let's Wrestle - We Are The Men You'll Grow To Love Soon [YouTube]
  • The Maccabees - Can You Give It [YouTube]
  • Maybeshewill - How To Have Sex With A Ghost [Myspace]
  • Minnaars - Are Lovers [Myspace]
  • Patrick Wolf – Hard Times [YouTube] (He.)
  • The Rosie Taylor Project - Lovers Or Something Like It [Myspace]
  • Silvery - The Nishikado [YouTube]
  • Slow Club – It Doesn't Have To Be Beautiful [YouTube]
  • Three Trapped Tigers - 7 [Myspace]
  • The Voluntary Butler Scheme – Tabasco Sole [YouTube]
  • We Were Promised Jetpacks - Roll Up Your Sleeves [YouTube]
  • Wild Beasts - Hooting & Howling [Myspace]
  • Friday, June 12, 2009

    The ten best bits of Future Of The Left's Travels With Myself And Another

    In chronological order:

    - The explosion from pensive introductory noodling to huge, dirty sounding guitar at the kickoff of Arming Eritrea

    - Falco literally screaming himself hoarse at the end of the second verse of Chin Music

    - The pub sea shanty singalong of our dreams: "come join, come join our hopeless cause/Come join, come join our lost cause"

    - "Though no-one must know it, I am at fault - I introduced Reginald J Trotsfield To his lieutenant, the fearsome Brown"

    - "If I eat what I fuck and I fuck what I eat, am I worth it?"

    - Kelson Mathias riding the bumpiest of low down and dirty basslines throughout the Jesus Lizard backwards rush of Land Of My Formers

    - You Need Satan More Than He Needs You: Bass like tectonic plate movements, actively disturbing Falco delivery, occult parentage subject matter

    - Stand By Your Manatee invents the surrealist Shellac

    - The Murdoch-baiting, Robbins-mistaking monologue at the start of Lapsed Catholics gradually giving way to a wall of everything. "Be aware! Be alert!"

    - The inevitable conclusion - this is an astonishing album, raging, melodically savage, cauterisingly dry and ferociously played. Do not miss it. It's out on 22nd June, or now through their site.

    Falco gives the best interviews in the world, doesn't he?

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    Apropos of nothing

    This was released a full year before Funeral's US release, but it sounds exactly like something that if released now would be dismissed as "Arcade Fire wannabes". Especially with the military jackets.

    Tuesday, June 09, 2009

    Don't think we're going to start regurgitating press releases every day

    It's just these two were very kind to us and are very useful.

    Songkick! You may have chanced across this plan for a crossover social networking site through the medium of millions of gig listings, but today it went fully live, but it's far more than just cross-referenced lists - you can add videos, photos, setlists and comments, follow other users (hello!), track bands and venues, complete a full lifetime's gigography, cross-pollinate with your last.fm account... plenty to go at.

    And yeah, alright, our gig's there too.

    The other piece of news regards the amazing looking (Animal Collective! Andrew Bird! Grizzly sodding Bear!*) Green Man festival in August in the picturesquely wet Brecon Beacons. They're running their Green Poll again, finding the people's choice to open the main stage. Well, strictly the top six go through to a, gulp, battle of the bands where, oh lord, "a panel of top music industry boffins" pick their favourite, so in our pessimistic state we'd guess Picture Books In Winter, Jonquil and Mitchell Museum have little to no chance. Still, one can but promote. This first phase of voting closes at midnight on June 28th.

    * We love how pretty much every week Ed Droste receives a Twitter message from someone telling him - not asking, telling - to play End Of The Road. Sometimes we're tempted to join in.

    Monday, June 08, 2009

    A British Arcade Fire, and other lies

    See, that's the thing these days. A little bit of passion and forceful tunnel vision, a couple of non-standard instruments and suddenly it's ruffle my hair and call me Win.

    Fanfarlo's chamber pop has been one of the main points of note for those looking for cheap comparative thrills, but their debut album Reservoir proves its own worth in a completely different way. You can nearly see where they get it from on I'm A Pilot, with the marching percussive chain gang backing and insistent piano as Simon Balthazar keeps his keening voice in check as the almost but never quite tasteful orchestration builds up around him, or on Drowning Man's desperate build. Yet this is not music set to go over the top, rather skewered melodies that make their way in their own time. Producer Peter Katis has manned the desk for Interpol, The National and Frightened Rabbit, all bands that believe in filtering passion in their own distinct ways, and the tight coiling and unspooling of the band heightens the sense of disquiet and that something has to be said, not necessarily in the apocalypse preacher's way but as lamentations of a depth that just about matches the way the stories bare their souls and make apparent their hopes and fears.

    And these are not the only American bands to be taken in and given this very particular big sound. You'll make note of the way Ghosts rides on a trumpet fanfare borrows a Motown bassline and handclaps to act against the delicate sound of fear; you'll wrack your brain trying to work out which era of David Byrne Balthazar most vocally resembles (it's More Songs About Buildings And Food. Thank you, please come again); you'll note stylistic references, while kept very much in the Fanfarlo idiom, to Grandaddy (Fire Escape), Neutral Milk Hotel (The Walls Are Coming Down) and Broken Social Scene (Harold T Wilkins...). But ultimately the propulsiveness and warmth of the multi-faceted arrangements means that there's always new things to discover. A quiet noise worth making loud proclamations about.

    Which is pretty much what we've been doing with Broken Records for a year and a bit now. Their self-released EP and a series of singles ending in a deal with XL showcased a band with seemingly limitless scope in the realms of much that self same Big Sound that the Waterboys' Mike Scott coined, via a Beirut/Arcade Fire passageway, leading up to Until The Earth Begins To Part. Now, one of our Line Of Best Fit editors - Tweedledee, we think - claims he hasn't been able to get more than a few tracks into it before turning it off out of aural desperation. We can kind of see that, not because of the old bugbears about the loudness wars, but because the self-compressed onslaught nature of these arrangements can get somewhat forbidding to the uninitiated. By all accounts live they're a real spectacle, and having heard a lot of the demos we're not entirely sure they've captured the rawness of that experience throughout this album (we're looking at you here, A Good Reason). Then there's the title track, which is still too close to Coldplayisms. On the other hand there's still the underlying dark grandeur, the determination to get the most out of this ambitious set-up and stake their own place in the heart of the storm. Nearly Home crests on Jamie Sutherland's grandstanding anguish and the fiery slow build around him. A Promise's build from delicate piano through Blue Nile bleakness to charge of orchestral noise reminds you these could just as easily be put alongside the Twilight Sad wave of Scottish open-hearted noise - there's a touch of Peloton/Great Eastern axis Delgados emerging here, which can never be a bad thing - as their Montreal brethren, something backed up by Ghosts introducing the pit to Explosions In The Sky dynamics. Wolves takes much the same ingredients and shouts them at the hillsides, although the guitars entering in the second half do threaten to take it into soft rock territory.

    Even so, in this company Slow Parade sounds all the more devastating as the last track, nakedly ambitious in its own gradually realised milieu. Broken Records have landed at most of their ambition, and often when they haven't quite made it are so nearly there that it almost makes no difference either way.

    Obviously Song By Toad are going big on them at the moment, not least a properly mixed and edited video of a recent home town gig.

    Sunday, June 07, 2009

    Some people

    Over the last couple of months of stultifying ennui we've built up quite a backlog of Myspaces to write up and/or check out, so this week we'll get a lot of new bands out of the way that we think you might just like.

    We'll start with one that was directly recommended to us by Jon from Love Ends Disaster! in a beer garden. The East Midlands does post-rock coated ephemeral anti-pop really well, and the typographically challenging SWIMMInG, while by no means another droning outfit, certainly know how to attach broken melodies, textures and soaring pedal work to a loosely pop frame. Featuring an ex-member of Amusement Parks On Fire and having played Glastonbury's Park stage at Emily Eavis' personal invitation last year, they're somewhat M83, a little Flaming Lips or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, there's certainly a sense that they know their Anticon and their Boards Of Canada, but they're all in all a band who don't really want to be pinned down. They play Isle Of Wight and Lovebox festivals, they have it in them to paint the sky with their vibrant technicolours. Or something.

    Southampton's Haunted Stereo aren't that easy to classify either, the area they work their wonders in being trapped between the nu-folk and the properly (ie not The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, broadsheets) twee-facing. Boasting a toybox full of instruments and able to arrange them in a way that suits the shifting sands of the tempos and structures while not overcrowding the sound or work by crescendos alone. We're reminded a little of The Boy Least Likely To, not with the faux-naivety but in the way these folky, expansive gems know the value of simple melodies about not yet putting away childhood things but are far too in love with the stylistic and kitchen sink dramatic possibilities to be easily written off.

    There's something quite understated in an overstatement way about Stairs To Korea. Another pretend band name, it's the work of Will Vaughan, once of erstwhile Magic Numbers support Horsebox, recent Pagan Wanderer Lu one-off backing band member and special British rep of the celebrated Rock Paparazzi Andersen Ben-Hilliens. What he does is add lo-fi electronica backgrounds to textured, skilful guitar (plus synth pedals), over which he lays wry, socially cynical lyrics. Essentially it's just great, cracked, heartfelt interesting English guitar pop, bedroom XTC/Super Furries-like, with a mass of potential.

    Also one person claiming to be many, Awesome Wells is Jonathan Palmer, sometime accomplice of The Voluntary Butler Scheme and man who spends a lot of time out and about recording stuff which he then works into his found sound symphonies. It's all quite Panda Bear or Banjo Or Freakout-like, mixing all sorts of dialled down beats and odd off-kilter instrumentation into pieces which seem more sonic exploration in the approachable sense, shimmeringly hypnotic at times, than proper songs. We're guessing Palmer owns quite a few BBC Radiophonic Workshop records, such is the evident painstaking joy in construction. (NB. It'd be quite dangerous to get this Awesome Wells mixed up with this Awesome Wells, who sound like the sort of youthful glitter-pop-punk explosion of a band who in Kenickie's wake made upstairs at The Garage their own in the late 90s. Which is no bad thing of itself, obviously)

    The Woe Betides are Grundy le Zimbra and The Late Simon Mastrantone. Mmm. They have Jeremy Warmsley connections. Of course they do. What they do is mildly folky dark pop that could have come from Andy Partridge's shed, rich in lively acoustics, harmonies and roughed up around the edges charm. Quite Sixties in approach, but just as modern in the joy of it all.

    Saturday, June 06, 2009

    The Weekly Sweep

  • Au Revoir Simone - Shadows [Myspace]
  • Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is The Move [live YouTube]
  • The Duckworth Lewis Method - The Age Of Revolution [Myspace]
  • Future Of The Left - You Need Satan More Than He Needs You [Myspace]
  • Grizzly Bear - All We Ask [Black Cab Session]
  • The Horrors - Who Can Say [YouTube]
  • Johnny Foreigner - Feels Like Summer [Myspace]
  • Jonquil - Fighting Smiles [Myspace]
  • The Maccabees - Can You Give It [YouTube]
  • Mew - Introducing Palace Players [Myspace]
  • The Northwestern - All The Ones [Myspace] (Sam and Simon, the singer and drummer respectively from Hope Of The States, return. Sounds like a downsized, more streamlined Hope Of The States)
  • The Radio Dept - David [mp3 from FensePost]
  • Rose Elinor Dougall - Start/Stop/Synchro [Myspace] (By the way, the good folk of Twesta, who are aiding us with our own gig, are putting an Indietracks warm-up on at Leicester Firebug on 23rd July with RED, as everyone refers to her in abbreviated form, headlining plus support from a solo MJ Hibbett and Lamacq raves The Crookes. We suspect ourselves and the Twesta people comprise the entirety of the Hibbett/Dougall fandom crossover, but no matter)
  • Silvery - The Nishikado [YouTube]
  • Slow Club – It Doesn't Have To Be Beautiful [Myspace]
  • Tigers That Talked - Black Heart, Blue Eyes [YouTube]
  • The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Periscope Envy [Myspace] (Back! Back! Back! New label, new drummer, new fourth member, new album (September 7th, bears the awkward title Love On An Oil Rig), same coruscating oddness in a wiry rock bowl. This isn't the single, by the way)
  • The Voluntary Butler Scheme – Tabasco Sole [YouTube]
  • Wild Beasts - Hooting & Howling [Myspace]
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll [YouTube]
  • Friday, June 05, 2009

    We are linking to other people

    It's been a good eighteen months since we properly wrote about the discordantly twisted world, and voice, of Paul Hawkins and Thee Awkward Silences, who emerged from the mess of oddity that was the attempted gathering of a London antifolk scene a couple of years ago to make the strangely compelling We Are Not Other People album last year. Mind you, we haven't really had to bark him up given Superman Revenge Squad and David Cronenberg's Wife have done so for us this year. The song that Ben SRS mentions, the bluesy if not in a way the blues would ever assert I'll Take Good Care of You, is anow available for free from his/their new blog.

    Oh, and our other outlet The Line Of Best Fit has compiled nineteen Canadian artists you'll doubtless hear a lot more about eventually. You can probably guess how many members Ultimate Power Duo don't have.

    Wednesday, June 03, 2009

    Good 'books

    Pocketbooks do that whole jangle pop thing, and they do it a whole lot better than the vast majority too. Straight out of the Go-Betweens/Postcard Records school of dragging the sweet/sour 60s into the modern recording studio, glorious melodies and boy/girl harmonies replete. How Does It Feel To Be Loved? are putting out debut album Flight Paths on 13th July, and we've been given the go-ahead to post the sparky, Housemartins-ish forthcoming single for a bit:

    Pocketbooks - Footsteps

    Tuesday, June 02, 2009

    Whatever unlikely thing you think of in music, chances are it will eventually happen

    Listen (in the UK only) to the BBC Big Band plus guest singer David Gedge

    They do My Favourite Dress! And 2 3 Go, which hardly anyone else seems to remember!

    The Music That Made... David Cronenberg's Wife

    David Cronenberg's Wife are the darkest of the dark humoured types. Macabre to a fault, unerring to a rare degree, like Cave via Richman, they've just released The Fight Song EP, a follow-up to last year's undervalued Bluebeard's Rooms. Singer/guitarist Tom Mayne tells us "I'm not very good at these things". Well, we'll see.

    First single bought: What's a single?
    First album bought: Nevermind. I mean, the Nirvana album, not 'it doesn't matter'. Though I think I asked my mum to buy it me as I didn't go out much.
    First gig voluntarily attended: Nick Cave, Brixton with Simon Breed in support. I went with Graeme and George.
    The record that most made you want to get into music: Never mind. I mean, 'it doesn't matter', not the Nirvana album.
    The three headliners at a festival you were curating: When was this? You mean a fantasy one? Let's have L. Cohen (1967), The Birthday Party (1980), J. Richman (any year). Or failing that Thee Intolerable Kidd, Paul Hawkins and Mathew Sawyer.
    A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear: Swans - Love Will Save You
    A song you'd play to get people dancing: No-one dances in London apart from Selene.
    The last great thing you heard: Dylan - Mississippi (Telltale Signs version)
    Your key non-musical influences: Chekhov
    Your favourite new artist: Charlotte Roche

    Monday, June 01, 2009

    Noise to signal

    Like many of yourselves, our weekend was spent in a beer garden. It's just that the bar adjoining had a weekend of top notch live music, the now biannual White Noise (Summer) shindig a three day opportunity to bring together the East Midlands' foremost new musical talent in Leicester's Firebug, all in aid of the LOROS hospice care charity. The weekend, no doubt helped by the weather was a stunning success - we hear £500 was made just in walkups on Friday alone, which means a) in a 100 capacity room health and safety need to know and b) even with Kasabian coincidentally launching their tour with three nights just across the city there's a real appetite around the area for this stuff, an extraordinary number of people especially for Leicester turning up to indulge and enjoy. And the artists responded in kind, with far more often than not sets that stepped up several gears from whenever we've seen them before. Some of those we saw we've written about in the past - Maybeshewill, whose John Helps co-organised the whole thing, headlined the Friday with a spectacularly full-on set culminating in a full stage invasion and John's... let's be kind and call it stagediving, while our failed weekend stalking targets Minnaars brought a proper heavy, sweaty dance party on the Saturday, after the high water mark groundwork set by our lieges Love Ends Disaster! just before. Before Maybeshewill Her Name Is Calla's coruscatingly innovative post-rock soared even when faced with the rare sight of heckling by clarinet, while And So I Watch You From Afar lived up to every bit of hype their instrumental heavy riffage has generated, and then some. And the Sunday, which included most of the straight-out experimental types, got moved downstairs to the bar proper. That sent a lot of casual single-Sunday-teatime-pint customers fleeing.

    Other highlights emerged, for which we turn to the tie-in CD (which we don't think you can order online yet) for illustration. If Death Of London didn't exist it might have been necessary for some parallel universe Steve Albini to invent them. They find their own medium between the spare tautness of Shellac and the skullcrushing riffs of Big Black, with elements of Part Chimp and McLusky. They've been around in various forms, most notably TEAM, for a while but we suspect it's only now they're finding their metier. Plus frontman and White Noise co-organiser Scott rocks the exact same beard as Tim Harrington. These things are important.

    Death Of London - White Wire

    Turning it down a bit, Actionforce deal in cracked new wave, using keyboard loops and samples to bolster their electronic far-reaching ambitions laced with a certain etheriality. They're difficult to stylistically pin down, but think Bandwagonesque-era Teenage Fanclub, early 90s Flaming Lips, Grandaddy and the Super Furries and you're approaching it.

    Actionforce - From Work To Eternity

    Also want to give a special mention to Peter Wyeth, who uses loopstations, pedals and special tunings to give an otherworldly feel to his hushed acoustic Jeremy Warmsley-esque songs. He mentions Mark Hollis of Talk Talk in his influences, which is perfectly acceptable. We'd recommend checking him out, especially live. Also good to see Misterlee back on the live circuit, now down to just a guitarist for accompaniment but still with the full box of echo tricks and sounding like the only problem he had with Trout Mask Replica was its too naked commercialism. Plenty of people use feedback as a noise weapon, but we'd never seen it used as a dub instrument before. And then he finished with a nearly straight-up cover of Bonkers, which we're not sure anyone else recognised.

    Now, if you'll excuse us, we have some recovering to do.

    Oh, except, speaking of live music in Leicester... yes, we did say there'd be a lot of this, but the gig blog has been updated with a WeGotTickets link.