Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thirty years' war

No good music is made these days. That's the stock line people of a certain age cling to when they see JLS on television, and it was one given house room to advance in Metro this week, wherein the reliably useless Keith Barker-Main was given space for this:

Listening to the top 40 recently

Well, that's obviously where to start any consideration of the broader sweep of music. He probably didn't listen to it anyway, he read it.

any lingering notion that Britain's musical tastes are superior to the rest of the world's was finally laid to rest.

Because he knows all the rest of the world's charts, you know. His evidence that British palates are so inferior? The international success stories Glee, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga...

wall to wall Yank w***.

He's not even mentioned Owl City. Ooh, take that, everyone, and we've not even got to the part where he suspects the youth have had a "sinister Mickey Finn slipped into their burgers", which would be fascinating given a Mickey Finn is traditionally something used to spike a drink. But what of home grown talent?

invariably a cash Cow-ell.... or something equally lame like Marina & The Diamonds.

Well, there's your leap of faith. Slamming an entire nation's musical output on the basis of Hollywood is like... well... like claiming Britain is a nation of imbeciles because it allows Keith Barker-Main to be employed by a newspaper, or Metro, which is close enough. The Family Jewels, incidentally, was given four stars by Metro in the previous day's edition.

Rewind a generation to February 1982

Very precise of him.

when, Shakin' Stevens notwithstanding, Britannia ruled the airwaves with The Jam, The Stranglers, OMD, XTC, Soft Cell and The Human League all charting.

And sure enough, this week in 1982 A Town Called Malice was number one, with Say Hello Wave Goodbye, Golden Brown and Maid Of Orleans in the top ten. Unfortunately, Barker-Main seems to have somehow skipped over Tight Fit (2), The J Geils Band (3) and Hall & oates (8), not to mention Toni Basil (11), Christopher Cross (12), Meat Loaf (15), Adrian Gurvitz' Classic (22), the theme from Hill Street Blues (25) and Stars On 45 III (29). See, Keith, we can all pick and choose.

Still, maybe he's right and things were so much better before pop got its marketing on. Let's see. Here's the top 40 from this week in 1980.

40 Gibson Brothers - Cuba
France's gift to disco, as writer and producer Daniel Vangarde's son Thomas would be two decades later. This might be where jazz-funk started. Be careful what you wish for. Loads of interesting stuff just below this chart, from the Flying Lizards' TV at 46 to Jon Pertwee's Worzel's Song at 57, Bad Manners' debut at 64, the theme from Monkey at 61, the first appearance of Martha And The Muffins' Echo Beach at 67 and at 47 Liquid Gold's Dance Yourself Dizzy, a song which Steve Lamacq once noted Smash Hits wrote out the lyrics to in full: "D-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-dizzy!"

39 John Foxx - Underpass
Icy early electro from Ultravox escapee, the sort of thing you wish someone would bring back in this synth-dominated pop world (rather than, say, Spandau Ballet, eh, Hurts?) while knowing you don't have a hope of hearing it if someone does.

38 Iron Maiden - Running Free
37 Styx - Babe
36 Sammy Hagar - I've Done Everything For You
Sounds was well into its NWOBHM phase, meaning even workaday metallers like pre-Van Halen Hagar got moments in the sun. Curious days.

35 Donna Summer - On The Radio
Later covered, which might be too strong a word, by Martine McCutcheon.

34 The Vapors - Turning Japanese
Course, the whole Japanese/wanking thing is a PC minefield, and the band say it's not actually about that at all (the opposite, in fact, to the Undertones, who say Teenage Kicks was about buffing the happy lamp, but only in its original lyrical form)

33 Regents - 7 Teen
2wo Third3, Ke$ha and Prince song titles start here. Maybe. Not really worth bothering with, basically someone's attempt to catch a Boomtown Rats wave.

32 Matchbox - Buzz Buzz A Diddle It
If 2010 is going to have a pernicious 1980s influence, it stands to reason that part of the 1980s never quite got over the 1950s. Showaddywaddy and Darts were still reasonably big having emerged at the end of the previous decade, the Stray Cats were to perfect and update the image, even Tight Fit had a go, and these were perhaps Britain's straightest mid-west rockabilly revivalists. Maybe eventually someone, and we don't mean Mark Kermode, will make a go of repopularising it again and then we'll have revival wheels within revival wheels.

31 Kool And The Gang - Too Hot

30 The Captain And Tennille - Do That To Me One More Time

29 AC/DC - Touch Too Much

28 Dave Edmunds - Singing The Blues
Odd career, yer Edmunds. He had a top 5 novelty hit with a rock'n'roll cover of Sabre Dance, I Hear You Knocking was a Christmas number one, was in David Essex's Stardust, then ended up as pub rock's own production guru, collaborating with Nick Lowe and ending up on Stiff covering Elvis Costello's Girl's Talk. Then he produced Paul McCartney and the Stray Cats, was musical director for a Carl Perkins television special and is now a regular guest with Jools Holland's Rhythm'n'Blues Orchestra. And all the while cultivating some lusciously thick hair.

27 The Selecter - Three Minute Hero
Pauline Black doubtless playing near you soon. She plays round here about three times a year.

26 New Musik - Living By Numbers
Tip to new bands - don't call yourself something like New Musik. On the TOTP2 clip on YouTube Steve Wright calls it a "massive Euro hit". New Musik were from London.

25 Stiff Little Fingers - At The Edge

24 Queen - Save Me
They used to put 'no synthesizers' on their album sleeves. The album this is from? Covered in 'em.

23 David Bowie - Alabama Song
Weird thing, this. A record contract was coming to an end, so Dave nipped round Visconti's and put down a version of a Brecht-Weill showstopper, largely because you can't really mix it into anything afterwards. It entered here and immediately disappeared.

22 Rainbow - All Night Long

21 Jefferson Starship - Jane

20 The Beat - Hands Off She's Mine
Touring soon with Neville Staple's Specials. Jerry won't be in them either.

19 The Police - Sue Lawley
Seriously, So Lonely is the title! How can you know the song and all still think it's something else?

18 Jon And Vangelis - I Hear You Now
Jon. How very utalitarian a stage name.

17 Peter Gabriel - Games Without Frontiers
Having to explain the 'jeux sans frontiers' relevance to this day.

16 The Buggles - Living In The Plastic Age
Like Chumbawamba, Martika and Sophie B Hawkins, they weren't one hit wonders, they just made follow-ups that were too lame to survive the collective conscious.

15 The Nolans - I'm In The Mood For Dancing
Well before Coleen became the most famous person in Britain.

14 The Boomtown Rats - Someone's Looking At You

13 The Specials - The Special AKA Live! EP
Too Much Too Young, Guns Of Navarone and the Skinhead Symphony medley. Five tracks, four covers and a lead track based on someone else's melody. Dammers was a creative genius, you know.

12 The Shadows - Riders In The Sky
Their last top 20 single, capping a career renaissance based on Evita and The Deer Hunter. Now there's a movie double bill.

11 The Ramones - Baby I Love You
Gun drawing, solitary chord for hours, you know the story. We don't think they picked their own string quartet.

Ladies and gentlement, that was the Ramones. Now, here's the sort of juxtaposition only old singles charts can throw up.

10 Keith Michell - Captain Beaky

Yeah, the charts had so much more cultural and qualitative awareness then, didn't they? Michell was a veteran Shakespearian actor who also illustrated the poetry book from which this was derived. Junior Choice, established 1954, was still going on Radio 1 at the time, and hosted by Tony Blackburn by 1980, who did a double shift with the chart show. Reggie Yates, look upon your past with awe. What we wouldn't give to just once hear him introduce My Bruvva.

9 Fern Kinney - Together We Are Beautiful
Just made for ironic montages and advertising.

8 The Tourists - So Good To Be Back Home Again
It's a wonder that we ever took Annie Lennox for the gender-playful imperious ice queen of synth when her background in power pop was so successful.

7 Michael Jackson - Rock With You
Written by a man from Cleethorpes.

6 Marti Webb - Take That Look Off Your Face
They didn't have to go to reality shows to find singers with big musical number potential back then, they were virtually falling out of trees.

5 Elvis Costello - I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down
Nearly released on 2-Tone after a dispute. The Attractions get to prance like fools while Elvis got the dinner in.

4 Cliff Richard - Carrie
This came in the middle of a period when the none more British Cliff was having American success about three decades after he aimed for it, this the only one out of five straight singles not to make the Billboard top twenty. They never got Wired For Sound, by the way.

3 The Whispers - And The Beat Goes On
Not to be confused with the Sonny & Cher one, or the All Seeing I one.

2 Kenny Rogers - Coward Of The County
A meme before we knew what to call them, it's essentially a song about why fighting's brilliant. What sort of example is that for the pop kids? And what sort of father tells his son to be a weakling at all costs?

1 Blondie - Atomic
Black bin bags as fashion. Might work better now.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Our fact checking cuz

Sorry about the lack of proper, not cheap and easy mp3-bearing updates this week. Things happened. What we can offer you is a track from the Filthy Little Angels Pavement compilation we mentioned the other day, all of two days before you can download it gratis anyway. These seem to be a rather interesting band in their own right, containing two of Emma Pollock's live band and a recent Idlewild tour support, taking on track one from Wowee Zowee.

Olympic Swimmers - We Dance

Monday, February 22, 2010

Passing tracks

Here's a mixed bag of largely recently located treats, three warm and indie, one very much not.

Halifax's The ABC Club's circling guitars and offhand female vocals (and not shoegaze at all, despite what seemingly every other outlet that has written about them reckons. Is this like when everyone wrote that the Maccabees had turned into Arcade Fire when they clearly hadn't?) blow hot and cold, but on this (possibly quite old) track they blow a little jangly, a little Strokesy, quite a bit Smithsy and a lot endearingly.

The ABC Club - Get Set Go

Even when we put them in our Class Of '08 Club 8 seemed a long shot for mainstream success, but a very odds-on bet at being another off Sweden's conveyor belt of charming, early 80s indie pop influenced melancholic sunshine dreamers with a tendency to wander off in alternate genre directions. This track, full of vim and bossa nova swinging party-a-go-go, is from seventh album The People's Record, out in May on reliable old Labrador.

Club 8 - Western Hospitality

Labrador? That reminds us.

Jam On Bread - I Heart Labrador Records
(Beardy ukelele man o'Grimsby Jam On Bread is... dunno. Steve? Associates of Steve? What's up with you/him?)

Death Of London will never get signed to Labrador. This is because a) they're on Function Records, who release EP The Independent State Of Death Of London on 5th April, and b) they sound like all of Steve Albini's bands at once so wouldn't fit in the slightest. BTW: The press release claims they formed from the ashes of Maybeshewill. The still extant and touring in June Maybeshewill will be surprised to learn they have ashes.

Death Of London - This Is Japan

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Harness your hopes

We're not far away now from the Pavement one back around, with angular best of Quarantine The Past released on March 8th and the tour getting underway at Auckland Town Hall on March 1st (full dates here) And according to one source, this is being given a vinyl reissue to coincide:

Filthy Little Angels are celebrating the reunion with Show Me A Word That Rhymes With Pavement, an ever expanding compilation of covers out FOR FREE on the self same 1st March. Among those so far confirmed, with streaming samples on the label site, from our back pages are Cats & Cats & Cats, Ace Bushy Striptease, Mascot Fight, Benjamin Shaw and The International Karate Plus, while Jack Lewis and Idlewild's Rod Jones also offer their services.

We gather Dan Ormsby, increasingly 'and your granny on bongos'-like frontman of 4 Or 5 Magicians, is planning to follow up last year's Our Band Could Be Your Life tribute weekender at the Brixton Windmill with a Pavement covers/tribute night on May 10th, with Ace Bushy Striptease and The Muscle Club involved. Those probably won't be the last of them either.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Islet it be

The music press story about Islet so far has been that they "shun modern forms of music sharing", in other words they don't have a Myspace and their only outlet is a fan site. We've seen quite a few bands boasting about their lack of a streaming service for their songs recently, or just not having any music shared on their account, which presumably must make Pete Green a groundbreaking artist for the first time in his life. What the story should be is how absolutely amazing they are live. Not in a way that's easily describable, inevitably, for all the motorik syncopation, the art-damaged end of post-punk, screamed mantras, sudden changes, drones, jumping around, instrument swapping, charging around the room with maracas/tambourine/bass in hand, and at one point everyone drumming in strict rhythm except the keyboard player, who was sat behind the drumkit (and he gave in eventually). This whole shebang is conducted by two members of Cardiff mid-00s nearly-weres Attack & Defend, one of Fredrick Stanley Star and an ex-Victorian English Gentlemens Club, and two tracks, of which this isn't one, are downloadable, along with much else, from Turnstile. They're opening for the no slouches themselves Los Campesinos! at the moment and are on as early as 8.15pm in some places, so get there very early. And down or near the front, for full effect.

Islet - Iris (BBC Introducing in Wales session)

Alien contact

You'll have to largely make up your own overheated hyperbole about Prestatyn duo Under Alien Skies, we're afraid. Animal Collective's name is coming up a lot for the way it fuses space electronics soundscapes with plangent vocals, in a more solemnic fashion, but you could equally cite Eno beauty in chaos or, particularly on this track, Grizzly Bear's post-Beach Boys serene landscaping. Or you could just quote BBC Radio Wales' head of musical newness Adam Walton at length: "Oh, dear god, this is outstanding!... this is the best reason, so far, for listening ahead into 2010 with hope, expectation and wonder... If I hear an EP as good as this before the end of the year, I will explode with furry joy. Pray that doesn't happen." The EP is called Powder, and apparently it's freely downloadable from somewhere. This is a quiet marvel that, should any of the above appeal, you cannot miss. (This was going to be overheated hyperbole free, wasn't it? Bugger.)

Under Alien Skies - Fyodor

Friday, February 19, 2010

C'est Chica

Pittsburgh's Boca Chica are a band we've marvelled at before for their seemingly effortless take on the grainy Americana of an Iron & Wine or Laura Veirs. There's very much a country side in evidence on their new Valentine EP, released through Indiecater Records. If its lushly developed string arrangement and leading banjo, topped by Hallie Pritts' forcefully airy vocal, underneath betrays long hours with Harvest and Illinois that doesn't mean it's directly descended from those touchstones. It's a swooning delight for a cold day such as this. The whole five track EP can be streamed from the label site.

Boca Chica - Lake Erie

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our next night out

Ticket link

The Music That Made... Jesca Hoop

At the start of every year, like some sort of communally agreed trick of sod's law, we get to hear an album released late the previous year that threatens to knock us clean away. This year the honour went to Jesca Hoop, a California raised, now Manchester based singer-songwriter who, as every piece of biographical detail strives to mention so we might as well join in, used to be live-in nanny for Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan's kids. You might have first stumbled across her, as we did, supporting Elbow on their autumn 2008 tour, but it's with December's Hunting My Dress that she really came of age, striking a glorious midway meeting stop between English folk influence, New Weird freak-folk and Cat Power-ish mystical songwriting. If anyone sounds like the spiritual heir to Kate Bush's pagan poetry it's clearly not going to be Little Boots, it's Hoop. That in mind, here's some questions for her.

First single bought: Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
First gig voluntarily attended: Victim's Family at the Phoenix Theatre in my home town
The record that most made you want to get into music: I was always into music but the first record I fell in love with was Rubber Soul by the Beatles
The three headliners at a festival you were curating: Crosby Stills & Nash in the 60's, the Clash, David Bowie in the 70's
A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear: Night Game by Paul Simon
A song you'd play to get people dancing: Paper Planes by M.I.A.
The last great thing you heard: Freestyle Fellowship
Your key non-musical influences: Conversation....voyeurism
Your favourite new artist: Bon Iver

New single Feast Of The Heart:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Music That Made... Mitchell Museum

This week is turning into a good clearing house to find out more about those we wrote about in preview precis for Class Of 2010. Mitchell Museum, for instance, Glasgow's lo-fi leftfield art-pop outfit. We find them in a position to give away six older tracks and demos via free Bandcamp download under the title We Lost 1st Prize, ahead of a just mastered (according to a chat with Ragged Words) album entitled The Peters Port Memorial Service. They're in session with Marc Riley on 6 Music on March 23rd and are doing likewise soon for Huw Stephens. Meanwhile...

First single bought
Cammy (vocals/keys): Peaches by the Presidents Of The United States Of America
Dougie (guitar): Shaggy - Mr Boombastic
Kris (bass): Guns 'n' Roses - Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Raindeer (drums): The Simpsons - Do The Bartman

First gig voluntarily attended:
Cammy: The first gig I voluntarily attend was a Grandaddy gig, the first gig I ever attended was a Runrig gig. Cool.
Kris: Pantera - Barrowlands, May 1994
Raindeer: Idlewild

The record that most made you want to get into music:
Cammy: That would be The Muppet Show. I absolutely loved that album. I still do. Their version of Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear is quite outstanding.
Dougie: Shaggy - Mr Boombastic
Kris: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
Raindeer: Radiohead - OK Computer

The three headliners at a festival you were curating:
Cammy: Flaming Lips, Modest Mouse and Pavement....Pitchfork steal all our ideas.
Dougie: Biz Markie, Numbers (only cos I've never seen them live), Sonic Youth (forced to play real songs, too much of that fucking about between song sonic jam nonsence and i'll be giving that Moore lad a stern telling off)
Kris: Tom Waits, David Bowie and Marylin Manson (If we are curating I want big names and big money) If it was a smaller scale festival then Why?, Sunset Rubdown and Yeasayer
Raindeer: Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, The Flaming Lips from 1999

A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear:
Cammy: An excellent song called Boyscout’n by an amazing band called Menomena. They’re pretty impressive.
Dougie: Ooo! - Tracy + The Plastics
Kris: Welcome Homeby Radical Face
Raindeer: Midlake - Kingfish Pies, from their first and best album, the one that no one talks about and the one that even the band seem to have forgotten too, one of the best albums I own.

A song you'd play to get people dancing:
Cammy: Atlas by Battles
Dougie: Shaggy - Mr Boombastic
Kris: Korobeiniki (Tetris theme tune)
Raindeer: Wolf Parade - I'll Believe In Anything

The last great thing you heard:
Cammy: I really like the new Los Campesinos! album but in particular the song The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future. The lyrics are brilliant and the arrangement is very very good indeed.
Dougie: I heard that Jennifer Aniston is going out with that Gerrard Butler from that film where he's going to kill everyone. That's EVERYONE. He is dead good and she deserves to be happy cos she was dead good in Friends and Brad Pitt left her for J-Lo or someone.
Kris: Charlotte Gainsbourg's IRM
Raindeer: Josiah Wolf - The Trailer And The Truck

Your key non-musical influences:
Cammy: Off the top of my head I’d say Mikhail Bulgakov, being run down by a taxi and Jim Henson.
Dougie: Tumble dryers, Danny Dyers, deep fat fryers.
Kris: Coffee, Hunter S Thompson, Wes Anderson, Deth P Sun
Raindeer: Dogs, my grandparents and orange Lucozade

Your favourite new artist:
Cammy: He’s not really that new... but he’s new to me... Dan Deacon. He’s very good he is.
Dougie: I dunno, how new is new? Unsigned new or just released a first single/ep/album new? Shaggy, Mr Boombastic
Kris: Sin Fang Bous
Raindeer: Favorite new artist to me would be Antlers

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Music That Made... Screaming Maldini

We introduced you to Sheffield eclecticists Screaming Maldini just the other day; now let's do it properly through the backstory of singer/guitarist Nick Maldini.

First single bought: Cotton Eye Joe - Rednex. Despite the intensely irritating nature of this, I still think it's a slice of pure pop gold! They were merely one hit wonders over here, but Wikipedia insists that they are still going and, indeed, they scored a number one single in Sweden last year with Devil's On The Loose (youtube insists that it has the same techno banjo hoe-down freak-out vibe that caught our imaginations way back in 1994)
First gig voluntarily attended: Erm, can't quite remember. The big early one, I guess, was Muse at London Arena (as was) on their Origin of Symmetry tour. Me and my sister made the awful decision of downing a load of vodka red bull (other stimulant drinks are available) beforehand though, so although it does stick in the memory as generically AMAZING, the details are fairly hazy...
The record that most made you want to get into music: I've wanted to get into music since I was about five or six when my uncle gave me a mix tape of the Beatles. I think it was a load of the early stuff, but it really, really hit home. I don't remember a specific moment when it clicked, but from around that time I wanted to write songs and I got a guitar for my seventh birthday. Alongside this, I was also immersed in classical music at home as a child, which was
unbelievably inspiring.
The three headliners at a festival you were curating: Radiohead, The King's Singers, and Abba
A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear: Wild Beasts - Woebegone Wanderers. An intelligent little ditty from the Limbo Panto album. It's about their local football club and includes the brilliant couplet: " I'd sware by my own cock and balls, and the family home's four walls".
A song you'd play to get people dancing: Probably Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder
The last great thing you heard: MY KZ UR BF - Everything Everything
Your key non-musical influences: Any and all of the Attenborough documentaries, Isaac Asimov (The End Of Eternity is phenomenal and has one of the best twists ever), Arthur C Clarke (check out the Rama series) and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (there's a fair bit of hate out there for Jim Carrey, but I think he's pretty close to being an acting genius)
Your favourite new artist: This is without a doubt Manchester's brilliant Everything Everything. I've not come across genius this apparent since first listening to the Beatles years ago. These guys have the potential to be timeless. Recommended listening: Nasa Is On Your Side

Monday, February 15, 2010

This is television freedom

Tomorrow night the thirtieth Brit awards (first year: 1977) take place at Earl's Court. We will not be previewing or reviewing it, or if at all likely livetweeting it, as we pissed some people off last year when they saw their feed was full of obvious Fearne Cotton jokes for two hours and we can't be all that arsed.

However, as somehow all the videos are still up, we do recommend revisiting our words and pictures review of the famously calamatous 1989 event. Gary Davies never did get to see the possibilities in the end.

Monster mash

Can't help thinking we've not really covered anything that's been balls-out freakazoid for a while. Leeds' These Monsters pretty much do that trick. Signed to Brew records, also home of similarly ferocious post-hardcoreites Kong, Chickenhawk and Castrovalva, and sometime support to an extraordinary range of bands from Oceansize, 65daysofstatic, Mono and HEALTH to Foals, iLiKETRAiNS, Broken Records and The Fall (Mark E must have been making for the venue power supply by the end of their set), they collide heavy riffs and bass with desperate down-a-well shouting, proggish time shifts and, on this title track from their March 1st debut album, No Wave sax skronking. Imagine some unholy amalgam of Shellac, Oxes and King Crimson locked in an airtight room and you might be getting there.

These Monsters - Call Me Dragon

The Music That Made... Mat Riviere

Norwich's Riviere was also in our Class Of 2010; album Follow Your Heart is released March 8th. Let's use some other people's quotes: "One of the most haunting and mesmerising spectacles you will catch... simply fantastic" (Artrocker); "Doom laden pop with reverb strings" (Drowned In Sound); "Sparse but intense songs, heavy on atmosphere and melody... a pop maverick for the future." (The National Student Newspaper) Now, some of his:

First single bought: Cats In The Cradle by Ugly Kid Joe. The B-side was called Pan Handlin Prince.
First gig voluntarily attended: Reef at the LCR in Norwich. Support came in the form of A, before they became briefly popular.
The record that most made you want to get into music: Less Talk More Rock by Propagandhi
The three headliners at a festival you were curating: Xiu Xiu, Bedhead, John Maus
A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear: Hold On To Love by Peter Skellern
The last great thing you heard: Ghost Writer by Tawny Owl
Your key non-musical influences: The Gilmore Girls
Your favourite new artist: Trash Kit. They're amazing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Big Mal

Days over a year ago we first wrote about Screaming Maldini's "free flowing melody and inventive layering", in a review that referenced Alphabeat. That was well before we heard Alphabeat's second album, you understand. The Sheffield band signed to Alcopop! at the start of 2010 and now bring out a five track, five quid EP, Screaming Maldini And The Kookaburra, on the 22nd, which adds all sorts of textures to the mix from manic yet lush pop with low budgetary Bacharach arrangements to post-punk borrowing power pop punchiness. This is a glorious track from it that both references shiny pop and something far more awkward - others have cited Mew, Bloc Party and Scritti Politti, we say a very British (and very late) take on Elephant 6 breezy psych-pop goodness. And yes, we did post this track when we first wrote about them, but we don't think it was in this form.

Screaming Maldini - Miniatures

There's a few dates coming up next week with previously STN-approved "soulmates" Stars And Sons: 21st February at Sheffield The Grapes, 22nd London Old Blue last, 23rd Brighton Albert, 24th Northampton Labour Club, 25th Oxford Cellar. Stars And Sons have a new single too, which sounds and looks like this:

The Music That Made... Allo Darlin'

Elizabeth Morris and band featured early and readily in our Class Of 2010; she's doing some dates with The School in March before popping over to SXSW. Before that, Elizabeth got down to some answering:

First single bought: Hmm, I really can’t remember. I had two older sisters and what they listened to I did generally. It definitely would have been a cassingle. I didn’t really have any money of my own to buy anything until I was a teenager. The first tape I remember asking for was Black Or White by Michael Jackson, and I must have been 7 or 8 then. I remember wearing out my older sister’s Mel and Kim cassingle a lot earlier than that though.
First gig voluntarily attended: I grew up in a small country town in Queensland, Australia, and we didn’t get people coming to play there very often. More country singers than anything else, and bad ones at that. I do remember that Silverchair (Nirvana in Pajamas), Jebediah and some other band rolled into town on a triple bill when I was 14 or so and did an all ages show. I went to that.
The record that most made you want to get into music: This is a difficult question. I suppose the only way I can answer it is to say that all of my childhood memories are associated with music. It was always something I loved and it was always a big part of our family. There wasn’t much else to do so songs were a way of connecting with things. And it was good music too – a lot of 50s and 60s and 70s golden pop stuff. Like the Beach Boys and Buddy Holly and things. I’ve always been into music. I can’t imagine not being into it, you know?
The three headliners at a festival you were curating: Is this an ATP question? And I guess it would have to be living artists, right?? We’d have to put both Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman on there, and Jonathan would hopefully play Velvet Underground. And Paul Simon! That would be amazing!
A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear: I Got Loaded by Lil Bob and the Lollipops.
A song you'd play to get people dancing: I think Secret by Half Japanese would be one of my favourite dancing songs. But Uptown Girl by Billy Joel is a great one for getting the crowd going at our disco Music for Girls.
The last great thing you heard: Emma from Standard Fare gave me their latest single the other day in Manchester. I think that’s great and that they’re great too.
Your key non-musical influences: Love of course. It’s the only answer I can give.
Your favourite new artist: Standard Fare!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Music That Made... Her Name Is Calla

Kicking off a full week of Music That Mades, the Leicester/Leeds outfit bringing a whole new emotional heft to the discomforting fringes of post-rock. A couple of live sightings in 2009 found them entering what seemed like new dimensions of dramatic tension and release without veering near cliche, boding well for second album The Quiet Lamb, out around summer time. Singer Tom Morris took our questions:

First single bought: I didn't start buying singles for some time, so I think it must've been something like Solved by Unbelievable Truth or something like that. I'm pretty sure I bought a Goo Goo Dolls song once too.
First gig voluntarily attended: Unbelievable Truth at The Charlotte in Leicester. Andy Yorke blanked me when I asked him to sign a CD.
The record that most made you want to get into music: OK Computer by Radiohead. It was a hugely important record to me. It made me want to play guitar and write songs.
The three headliners at a festival you were curating: Radiohead, Grizzly Bear, Cat Power
A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear: And The Racket They Made by King Creosote. Absolutely gorgeous.
A song you'd play to get people dancing: All Along The Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix version)
The last great thing you heard: Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear. An absolutely brilliant record. They're such fantastic song writers. We played with them in Leicester a few years ago to about 25 people. A few years later, I'd watch Smog play to even less in the same town.
Your key non-musical influences: Films. Without a doubt. Not many people know, but I'm actually a huge western fan. And sci-fi. Not together. But as a band, we are all collectively into films - though we have wildly different tastes.
Your favourite new artist: I don't know if they're new or not, by I just started listening to Midlake and I'm enjoying their album immensely.

Editorial note: we were at both the Grizzly Bear and Smog (Bill Callahan by then, to be pedantic) gigs, and while 25 is slightly undercutting the turnout it's not by very much at all. Even Ed Droste remembers it. Here's last year's New England as rendered in Eastern European-style shadow animation by iLiKETRAiNS collaborators Broken Pixel.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Smash Hits wouldn't be entirely surprised if Ellen Foley turned out to be the first massive female star of The 80s. And that's not much of a gamble."

Time thoroughly wasted this week by Like Punk Never Happened, a slightly misleading title for an archive of scanned in editions of Smash Hits from 1979 and 1980, before the full Black Type/Uncle Disgusting/Ben Vol-au-vent-Parrot/Reg "Reg" Snipton onslaught but not much the worse for that. Not when singles are being reviewed by Chris Difford and Andy Partridge, the latter predicting Video Killed The Radio Star has no chance of being a hit. Excellent interviews under the editorial auspices of David Hepworth and Ian Cranna, plenty of songwords, great band photography and Secret Affair on the cover one week.

Also! Tweeted this last night on returning, but Adam Buxton was in our town on Bug duty and among his cache of inventive animated videos and personal flights of fancy (ah, Nutty Room on a large screen in surround sound) was this. It's had 2.2m views but we'd never heard of or seen it before. Sour, as far as we can tell, are a Japanese band who know a lot of fans with Macbook webcams and have hired a production team with particular ingenuity:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Maxwell housed

Everyone's heartily sick, we're sure, of the current deliberately fuzztacular no-fi scene, and indeed we don't doubt the Guardian has now written at least twenty blog pieces of critique. Finding roughly recorded singer-songwriters is an entirely different piscine kettle, but it's in dictaphone quality that we find Sunderland's Maxwell Panther. Naked by usual 32kbps status without a reverb pedal, he cites Syd Barrett as an influence, which reflects itself in the deceptively simple pattern, but there's much of the sandpaper-raw, bitter veneer of rough pop nous some of Graham Coxon's early solo sketches exhibited, if in more angry, almost rock'n'roll terms. Song, By Toad Records are putting out his album, Do You Feel Different Yet?

Maxwell Panther - My Ex-Identity

Monday, February 08, 2010

Fifty glorious years of guitar abuse

Recorded in 1960, Dutch-Indonesian rock'n'rollers the Tielman Brothers:

Pretty impressive, huh? All sorts of stuff you didn't think was invented for years, nay, decades later. We're particularly drawn to that drum solo-on-guitar bit at 0:40, because whenever you think of bands extracting wild new noises from their instruments you don't tend to see anything more exotic than drumsticks as sliders or Glenn Branca-style tuning calamities, whereas back in the primal days of noisy, fuzztoned R'n'R that sort of thing was happening and a few years later The Monks were soloing three at a time:

And you think rubbing the strings against the mike stand catches the eye and ear in exciting new ways? Ha!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Twenty new names, five days: part five

Past Lives
From: Seattle
Blurb: This is what became of several members of post-hardcore quasi-legends The Blood Brothers after their 2007 breakup, chiefly vocalist Jodan Blilie (twin brother of the Gossip's drummer, fact fans) Debut album Tapestry Of Webs, out in America on February 23rd, finds them in more considered mood, musically if not entirely mentally, a darkly whirling, occasionally muscular take on the more cloudy ends of post-punk. No European dates booked yet, but they're touring with the Thermals in April.
RIYL: The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Liars

Black Cab Casino
From: Newcastle. Or Sunderland, depending on where you read it
Blurb: There's definitely something in the water up in the north east nowadays that's enabling bands to take much covered influences and put a fresh, able spin on it all. Formed just last summer at least in this formation, the trio have the jerky, melodic in broken pieces spin of your favourite post-punk revivalists, but streamline it into something ominous and shuddering with a certain early rock'n'roll edge. Retro and modern at the same time, just as it could be.
RIYL: Frankie & The Heartstrings, Bloc Party (Silent Alarm only), Black Kids

The Shitty Limits
From: Reading
Blurb: Darlings of the DIY scene, whatever that means these days, these are short songs of crashing snotty Nuggets garage rock, art-punk and hints of post-hardcore in a very loud lo-fi package. Apparently, obviously, they're a literal riot live. Oh, and they go only by initials and refuse to give interviews. OF COURSE.
RIYL: Wire, Ikara Colt, Male Bonding

Trash Kit
From: London
Blurb: And more artful DIY no-fi to conclude. An all-girl trio signed to Upset The Rhythm and featuring an ex-Electrelaner, their songs jerk about all over the place in seemingly uncultured at first but clearly very much so insidious whirlwinds of drumming frenzies, fractured riffs, Afrobeat rhythms and intertwined vocal shouts. All very early 80s Rough Trade, and all very intriguing. Album set for May.
RIYL: No Wave in general, The Raincoats, Fair Ohs

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The James Brown dancercise* plan

* The key to dancercise is the rather ingenious coupling of the word 'dance' to the word 'circumcise'.

Twenty new names, five days: part four

This Many Boyfriends
From: Leeds
Blurb: A shambles is a shambles is a shambles, but sometimes it's an attractive shambles. Not unsurprisingly playing tonight with Internet Forever in Sheffield (and again in Derby on the 21st), they have a song called I Don't Like You (Cos You Don't Like The Pastels), a female stand-up drummer and fuzz pedals. Their biography defiantly ends 'WE ARE NOT TWEE'.
RIYL: The Pooh Sticks, Ballboy, Beat Happening

Is Tropical
From: South London
Blurb: Caution here, maybe - they're big in *those* capital circles, wear masks and are, like Yuck, touring with Egyptian Hip-Hop. However, hold hard, for these purvey fidgety post-electro full of fills too good for nu-rave, angularities too goggle eyed for post-punk revivalism and dark lo-fi electronics, all with a sense of the playful close to hand.
RIYL: Metronomy, Klaxons, Mystery Jets

Saturday's Kids
From: South Wales
Blurb: Named after a Jam song they may be, but their sound owes nothing to mod-punk and quite a bit to the fine art of the unholy racket. Fugazi tautness is splintered by post-hardcore guitars thrown into and across each other in restless shapes. They're 17. Yeah, that's the kind of detail that makes us feel that so much greyer.
RIYL: early Nirvana, Rites Of Spring, Lovvers

The Man From Another Place
From: Edinburgh
Blurb: This shares next to nothing in common with any of the above. Named after the oddly cadenced jazz dancing dwarf from Twin Peaks, it seems like the sort of unsettling chamber Brian Wilson-esque orchestration Lynch might use - indeed it's described by the mysterious self as "soundtrack music to a lost film". See, we've wasted all those other words.
RIYL: Burt Bacharach, Angelo Badalamenti, The High Llamas

Friday, February 05, 2010

Twenty new names, five days: part three

So Say So
From: London
Blurb: Fronted by Glenn Kerrigan, also to be found in Emmy The Great's backline, these sketch out a maxi-pop (we will get that phrase into common use, we assure you) of swooningly melodic and just occasionally direct multi-instrumentalism, optimist and heartaching in equal measure.
RIYL: Fanfarlo, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Neutral Milk Hotel

From: London/Leeds
Blurb: Ric Hollingbery, also to be found in - oh, how do we find these people? - Emmy The Great's backline (and on Corinne Bailey Rae's new album), is in this guise what they used to call folktronica. That is to say, programmed glitches, hums and synths circle and subtle orchestrations build and fill in the gaps around Hollingbery's strong, yearning vocals. Then there's the track that goes all Balkan klezmer. Very odd and very intriguing.
RIYL: Patrick Wolf, Tunng, Jeremy Warmsley

Sarah Jaffe
From: Denton, Texas
Blurb: Currently over here in Europe supporting Midlake, Jaffe's Americana folk take is projected through a smoky, bluesy-soulful voice with honest, smart lyrics, selflessly to a fault unpicking her own desires and character against tastefully held back occasional orchestration.
RIYL: Laura Veirs, Joan As Policewoman, Joni Mitchell

From: London
Blurb: Something of a blog buzz brewing here, not unreasonably as their first track delves into one of 2008-09's most profitable harvests, C86-influenced fuzzbomb pop with boy-girl vocals. The second track? Sparse, lonely slowcore. Touring with similarly hip(ster) names Egyptian Hip Hop and Dum Dum Girls, it's been about six weeks after their Myspace member registration, and it turns out that two of them were in a much hyped band from a couple of years ago (look it up yourselves) Anyway, you'll be hearing a hell of a lot about them.
RIYL: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Yo La Tengo, The Cure

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Twenty new names, five days: part two

Lily Rae
From: Brixton
Blurb: Nineteen years old, Rae has a big picture of a kitten as her Myspace wallpaper. Don't be taken in. Rae has a big expressive voice, a caustic way with a lyric and an absolute conviction without going anywhere near overbearing, and with her band the Saturday Girls achieves high levels of new wave spikiness. And her dad's in her backing band. For further observation: Rae, surrogate sister in sarcasti-pop Julia Indelicate, some fake moustaches and a Dylan chord book
RIYL: Kirsty Maccoll, The Indelicates, Blondie

From: Glasgow
Blurb: At the end of next month we're cementing our love for one set of laptop folk Scots by putting them on (see other outlets for information); here's another one. Essentially multi-instrumentalist Lewis Cook, his open hearted stories of dislocation and executive introspection are variously put up to fight against Boards Of Canada pastorialism, fucked-up beats and laptop glitches. He put out an album, Tug Of Love, last year, dedicated equally to his adopted home city and to Aidan Moffatt. And again, he's nineteen. Remember: you have comparatively achieved nothing. NOTHING.
RIYL: Meursault, Arab Strap, The Books

The Muscle Club
From: Cardiff
Blurb: Recent tourmates of 4 Or 5 Magicians, Muscle Club's restlessness manifests itself on debut EP Fragmented Ideas From Young Lungs in spiky, sliced and diced riffage, youthful and occasionally shouty vim and spectacular vaulting energy packaged in an untidy bundle of arcing across a different city.
RIYL: Johnny Foreigner, Tubelord, Les Savy Fav

Let’s Buy Happiness!
From: Newcastle
Blurb: Much of what press these have had so far has compared Sarah Hall's vocals to Elizabeth Fraser's, but to our barely trained ears she seems a ringer for Alessi Laurent-Marke, some say Alessi's Ark. Around her, yeah, it's around there, tenderly frail vocals matched with aereated delay-heavy guitar chimes and rhythms that stretch out in their own time while still seeming taut and vibrant. They're too earthy for dreampop categorisation, though, folky melodies and college rock-influenced structure playing as much of a role. Their second EP is imminent, judging by a tweet from yesterday.
RIYL: The Cocteau Twins, Engineers, The Shins

Disaster relief

It may sound like the sort of Chinese Democracy-like assertion that if said long enough would have to become a self-fulfilling prophecy eventually, but our much beloved Nottingham friends and headliners of the first in a long line of money-haemorraghing STN nights, Love Ends Disaster!, finally have an album ready. City Of Glass, it's called, and while we don't know a proper release date yet your first chance to get hold of a copy will be on Saturday 13th February, when they play a hometown show at Nottingham Rescue Rooms. Also waiting for your four quid outlay: doomy post-post-punks Stop Eject, thunderously angular trio Dead Spex and Martinseviltwin, who we know nothing about and suspect Jon has made up. If we weren't elsewhere*, we'd be there.

(* The second of two nights of MJ Hibbett's space fantasy one man show Dinosaur Planet at Leicester Criterion, since you ask. Why not come down to that as well. Somehow.)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Twenty new names, five days: part one

Consider this a clearing exercise for our backlog of bands to write about, as well as a one stop shop for some types that might be of further interest this year.

From: Austin, Texas
Blurb: Pictures of Dan Bejar, Stephin Merritt and Bill Callahan (and Arcade Fire) are prominently positioned on this 'space, and like they Philip Woodbury would like you to think there's a full band at work. A 22 year old from Austin, Texas, he's released three albums, the latest of which, November 2009's There Exists An Abstraction Ladder, echoes with an auteur's attention to streamlined but still rough terrain detail, vaulting impressively around the place from distorted electronic crashing to acoustic laments to introspective songcraft with inventive production. You can pay what you want for There Exists An Abstraction Ladder, or just stream it, from Burywood's Bandcamp.
RIYL: Wolf Parade, The Unicorns, AC Newman

The Motifs
From: Melbourne
Blurb: The drum machine backed delicacy of this Australian quintet's morsels is less from the twee school than a more lounge, some say louche version of the skittering keyboardy electronic side of indiepop. Short songs, occasionally about odd subjects, coasting in on the breeze but leaving an impression.
RIYL: Au Revoir Simone, Pipas, early Camera Obscura, that Pastels/Tenniscoats collaboration

Lofty Heights
From: North London
Blurb: Who'd have thought the Duke Of Uke store would be such a game-changer? Lofty Heights are primarily one Gregory Griffin, a Californian whose folk pop bears the imprints of both dusty back porches and modern London lo-fi strumalong odd storytelling. He sounds a little like Zach Condon, actually. Even in the depths of winter it sounds like the most summery fun.
RIYL: Darren Hayman, Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, Dent May And His Magnificent Ukelele

Junkyard Choir
From: South London
Blurb: Good name. Led by Mark Woods, formerly of overstaffed cabaret-soul-metallers Do Me Bad Things, they bring the klezmer-influenced Beefheart warped blues to swampy rock'n'roll and pull the whole thing down into a crashing, shuddering mess of glory.
RIYL: SixNationState, The Dirty Backbeats, some bands people who don't carefully read every word of STN might recognise (80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster a bit)

Monday, February 01, 2010

It's our fifth birthday at the end of April

What do you think we should do to commemorate? If we put on a celebratory gig, a) would you come? and b) who should we invite to headline to reflect what we do here, and would be available and willing to play a 100 capacity room in the east Midlands (hint, hint, booking agents and managers)?

These are questions we're asking ourselves while we summon up the courage to get endless booking agent knockbacks, but we'd like to know what you'd add. Don't worry, we've had ideas of our own for once too.