Saturday, April 24, 2010

First sight

One of our aims has always been to find, broadcast and heighten general awareness of new music through these basic but workable text interfaces. This is not done out of the stereotypical blogger's search for and elevation of The New above The Existing, but as we see it a tacit acceptance that bands are often at their most exciting just as they emerge from chrysalis and catching them early and watching them grow and develop their own sense of space and time is a wonderful thing. We've done a lot of this in the last five years, and while our hit rate has been the erring side of erratic (although you have to say pointing out a group called Kapowski, only for them to post a goodbye blog two days later, takes some beating), some of our praise recipients either having gone onto big things or been followed by us to the point of stalkerdom. This, then, is high time to pause and look back at those we jumped onto early, and what we initially made of them.

Sky Larkin
"Surely next cab off the New Yorkshire rank, sounding like the Breeders playing at being Bloc Party." (23/1/06)
We were a bit stinting on over-detailing in those days. Original bassist Lindsay was still in the band at this point and they'd issued a couple of demo EPs, our being led onto them by the support of early UK music blog hero to most Mike Smith, trading as Take Your Medicine and later Nothing But Green Lights, that unfortunately dormant for about a year. Ver Larkin have been one of our constants since, people we know are aware of our presence, and we're gladdened to hear a second album is in the early stages of mixing. For further reading, this local scene site interview from four months earlier, accompanied by a picture in which Katie looks a good decade older than she does now. God, New Yorkshire.

Jeremy Warmsley
"(His) laptop singer-songwriter thrown through a plate glass window style is winning him friends all the time, and a hookup with England's newest hitmakers Transgressive Records can't hinder. 5 Verses pitches its tent somewhere between the distinct fields of Jarvis Cocker, early solo Brian Eno and Four Tet's more accessible moments." (27/3/06)
Easy to forget J-Wo's first stirrings were more beats-based than much of what followed, although it certainly never totally lost him. He later became our first interview subject, then we think the first musician who knew us by blog name upon meeting at Truck one time, then put us in the acknowledgements list for How We Became and played our second ever promotion. And no, we still didn't know he was half of Summer Camp before the reveal. Says here this is his 126th namecheck on the blog. His own promotional materials probably don't mention him that often.

Lucky Soul
"blessed with a frontwoman in Ali Howard who sounds like Stina Nordenstam in the Supremes. We can't help thinking Bob Stanley is in hog heaven with all these bands emerging." (22/5/06)
Doesn't sound that much like Stina Nordenstam. We'd been tipped off repeatedly about Lucky Soul by a couple of people for some time before actually getting round to hearing them, and by the time it did things had swung that sort of thing's way far enough for us to really get it at first count. They're playing a handful of gigs in the next couple of months, including the enticingly named Basingstoke Live.

Los Campesinos!
"A septet who seem to be carrying on a small scale Cardiff obsession this section is accidentally developing, have already been around pretty much the entire mp3 blogosphere twice since Nothing But Green Lights picked up on them about a week ago, making them perhaps the fastest Internet sensation in history. Still, what's a little late bandwagon jumping between friends, because they're a band many will grow to adore. In the space of first track You! Me! Dancing! we noted down the names of Architecture In Helsinki, My Latest Novel, Ooberman, Thunderbirds Are Now!, Heavenly, Broken Social Scene, Orange Juice, Khaya and Les Incompetents. If that's not for you the other three tracks up, which are all downloadable, play in the fields of twisted guitar pop, early Delgados hidden lo-fi grandeur and the thought that they'd be fantastic live. So, maybe not for the Bolt-Thrower fans, but perfect for this summery feel that's come over us all of late." (10/7/06)
This particular story starts on 29th June 2006 when a bloke called Tom sent out a couple of messages about his band and their having uploaded some songs to the Myspace page they started a few months earlier (Y!M!D!, Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks, It Started With A Mixx and Death To Los Campesinos!, or as it was prosaically known at the time Song 1). Nothing But Green Lights actually jumped on them a day later (see Ellen in the comments) and reported more than 300 downloads of Y!M!D! within four days, spreading so quickly around the blogosphere that they were in Hype Machine's top five by 4th July, hence that latecomer qualifier. We don't know where some of those comparisons came from, although some were clearly more cock on than others (Thunderbirds Are Now! are a Michigan post-punk band who were blog next big things for about three days; Khaya were a Scottish duo who didn't so much as gain a cult following although Peel liked them) The rest you know. Gareth has one of our badges. He's probably lost it.

Emmy The Great
"Thoughtful largely acoustic singer-songwriter business, what they used to call anti-folk but now we're going to glibly say is our own Martha Wainwright." (19/7/06)
"Tipped for something significant, although the mainstream audience for interlocking guitars, disco drums, the odd cheap keyboard rhythm and excitable vocals could be difficult to find. Must be quite something to see, though." (19/7/06)
More truth in those, apart from the confident suggestion Foals would never cross over, then we'd ever admit to. These come from the same post, a foolhardy attempt to preview every band playing Truck Festival in 2006, a reflection of nothing more than how excited we were by it, and despite that we still managed to create a good 45 minute gap in our memories that coincided with Battles' set in the Barn. We saw Emmy, partly backed by Warmsley (and indeed unwittingly blanked her during the aforementioned meeting with him, something we've never truly made up for even when she told us she'd shown her mum our review of that set); we've conversely never managed to catch Foals, despite having a ticket for one of their gigs (illness) and being at two Trucks they've played. The second time, the famed 2007 September version, they were moved from the Trailer Park to the Barn at short notice due to overcrowding and we didn't find out until told the following day by, um, Katie from Sky Larkin.

The Wombats
"If anything's held the Liverpool scene back over the years it's the way it always seems to eventually come back to meat and potatoes guitar pop. You'd think all local musical efforts were overshadowed by one enormous band, perhaps from the 60s, or something. The Wombats could well fall into the same trap but expertly avoid it through harmonic guitars, crisp janglepop and trace elements of Lee Mavers' retro vision. You'll be hearing a lot more of them if they're not careful." (18/9/06)
They weren't careful. In either sense. We're telling you, those first couple of singles had something.

"A bloody stupid name for a band. We hope they appreciate our considered input. The Glaswegian double-drummer sextet call their throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-collapses melange of Fugazi, Jetplane Landing, Pavement, post-rock and Maximo Park on steroids 'fight pop'. We file it under noisily melodic goodness." (2/10/06)
Maybe "melodic" was a bit strong. "(They) have almost certainly listened to a lot of songs by The Thermals" reckons one commenter of our acquaintance. Giles Bailey was still singer at this point, Calum Gunn taking the drum-singer-loon position John Bailie Jnr would later make his own, with James Hamilton, now of Errors, alongside him at the back.

Pagan Wanderer Lu
"Omnichords, then. A few years ago Sean Dickson from the High Llamas was much given to touting his around as if it was this wonderous thing he'd discovered, now every second sonic adventurer has one as a matter of course. It's what you do with it that matters, and what Pagan Wanderer Lu does with his, and the rest of his one man band electronic boxes, very much matters. Wryly seething lyrics are married to lo-fi keyboards that smash up pop melodies and attempt to wire them back together in a skewiff fashion, reminding at times of the long lost Experimental Pop Band or at least making sense of the claimed influences from Pavement, Aphex Twin, the Fiery Furnaces and Magnetic Fields. Also, Our New Hospital Sucks is surely pop's first song about PFIs." (30/10/06)

Au Revoir Simone
"Are, inevitably, from Brooklyn. We say inevitable because the female trio sound like they've been piped directly from a faux-boho practice space, all singing and playing keyboards. Musically we're hearing influences from the Magnetic Fields' twee days, a blissed-out Ladytron, Cocteau Twins' ethereal synths and great swathes of warm Germanic electronica. Apparently they can be quite disco, but as there's only two tracks uploaded we'll have to take their word for it. The kings in waiting of Moshi Moshi Records have picked this up for the UK and they're currently hanging onto We Are Scientists' coattails around the country." (6/11/06)

The Indelicates
"There are two things everyone knows about (yes, score yet another Weekender selection down for the cultural hub of East Sussex) Brighton's The Indelicates: the title of the song about overeager press interest in a certain "rock bad boy", and the band female half (actually they're a five-piece, but only two of them do press and take the Indelicate surname so let's press on) Julia was a founder member of. Far more entertaining is the detail that male 'half' Simon has written and staged a musical about the book of Job. And more entertaining still is their music, kamikaze cabaret indiepop like the Dresden Dolls if they were svengali'd by Luke Haines and Jim Reid. Fans of Johnny Boy, Art Brut and great British curmudgeonliness, step this way." (15/1/07)
Course, Simon and Julia moved to Lewes just so they wouldn't be called a 'Brighton band'. We don't think we quite got the measure of their lyrical nous back then, although the Luke Haines and Art Brut comparisons stand up to facts.

Those Dancing Days
"Maybe there's a secret pop factory in Sweden that churns out bands who take lo-fi C86 twee as a starting point for modernist adventuring. Stockholm's latest buzz band are five teenage girls called Those Dancing Days, who bring to the fray the very essence of organ led '1997' (see posts passim) filtered through Northern Soul, Sarah Records and Blondie. They're all downloadable too - try Hitten, essentially Camera Obscura demoing Pull Shapes, or the eponymous track, which is reminiscent of Sophie Ellis-Bextor teaming up with the Duloks and the Stranglers' Dave Greenfield." (7/5/07)
All gone quiet over there after a good long period in the US last year, although they're playing Belle & Sebastian's ATP.

4 Or 5 Magicians
"There's been far too much girly Scandinavian twee around here recently, which is all very well in its own pop way but occasionally you feel the direct need to hear a band whose top line of Top Friends includes Pavement, Sonic Youth and Guided By Voices and can justify such in sound. And as we know from this section's past, if they're from Brighton they're virtually a shoo-in already. Hence 4 Or 5 Magicians, whose leader Dan Ormsby clearly knows his Slanted And Enchanted and Alien Lanes as well as Sebadoh, Built To Spill and Bearsuit. There's a single pencilled in for July and a bucketload of potential beyond, if probably not a better opening line than Forever On The Edge's "I wasted my youth playing cricket"." (14/5/07)

Wild Beasts
"One band that do come across better in this setting than records suggest are Wild Beasts, clearly of a post-punk revival bent but taking the limber, fractured funk of Orange Juice and their Postcard Records bretheren and adding touches of soul and avant-jazz rhythms and, most pertinently, Hayden Thorpe's extraordinary vocal style, akin to Billy Mackenzie in the process of his voice breaking. Former single Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants (right) gets people properly moving." (14/8/07)
Summer Sundae review, when they played in a less than quarter full tent because everyone else was watching Maps. Clearly a stirring set given they've returned to the festival for both of the last two years.

Slow Club
"...we find a more successful translation of joy-filled wistful whimsy in the scrappy acoustic pop of Slow Club - Charles on guitar, Rebecca standing up behind an occasionally employed drumkit, both singing and harmonising on their off-kilter stories and city shanties. Nobody dances despite Charles' invitation, although it's fairly hard not to be moved when they're at full pelt, but it's just what the occasion and the ambience required." (28/9/07)
Part of an End Of The Road Festival review, and we recall setting out especially to see them so are surprised this was the first actual mention of them. Also, we remember absolutely nothing of this set.

Johnny Foreigner
"Their debut EP Arcs Across The City may not be released until November 26th but Johnny Foreigner have been quietly stirring no small amount of interest in certain circles. Taking Chicago post-hardcore as their starting point, the Birmingham trio rocket through Sonic Youth, Pavement, Q And Not U and Prolapse and come out sounding like the most urgent math-scuzz possible. Keep a very close eye out." (10/10/07)

"Many moons ago it was Song, By Toad (see sidebar) that put us onto the great Broken Records, and they've recently repeated the trick with another set of emotionally charged Edinburgh types. Meursault, who've just released an album called Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing with Tongues, available pretty much only through the usual PayPal link on their Myspace. Theirs is a possibly unique when deployed in this way combination of lo-fi but defiant electronica, modern folky standbys of accordions and ukeleles, and Neil Pennycook’s cracked howl at the world, a fearsome and fearful lyrical content to match. It comes across like Band Of Horses taking on the Postal Service only to do it wrongly, on purpose. Where does it fit in? Well, apart from the odd wade into Jonquil territory, it doesn't, and that's all you really want." (29/9/08)

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